Hacjivah Dayimani on the charge for the Stormers. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
- Hacjivah Dayimani resuscitated his career at the Stormers after falling short of reaching his true potential at the Lions, where he gained prominence.
- The 24-year-old moved back to his birthplace, Cape Town, last year in a decision that transformed him into a URC winner.
- He became a canny lineout operator, too, something his forwards coach Rito Hlungwani partly credited to teammate Marvin Orie.
Flank forward Hacjivah Dayimani might be on the most notoriously trendy post-championship celebration, but he’s one of the Stormers players who’ve had plenty of reason to cheer following their United Rugby Championship (URC) win last weekend.
Dayimani completed a spectacular career turnaround at the Stormers, who he joined from the Lions, the province that brought him to the fore, last year.
The 24-year-old made his mark as a fleet-footed link player but lacked the combustible confrontational nature that makes South African coaches salivate. His dynamism wore thin when many started expecting Duane-ism in contact.
The Lions resorted to bringing Jaco Kriel back, hoping the hard-running Springbok would replicate the form that took them to three straight Super Rugby finals.
Dayimani, meanwhile, was even touted for a spell in the backline, a shift to wing he didn’t quite fancy.
But his return to his birthplace in Cape Town has reignited a spirit and verve not seen since he broke through as far back as 2017.
Not only did his acceleration with the ball return its old torque, but he also became an incredible lineout option, a powerful weapon that was scarcely exploited in his time in Johannesburg.
His natural athleticism allowed him to get a spring on other jumpers and leap, almost basketball player like in a lineout, past opponents to snatch the ball.
His Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani said the shared responsibility environment allowed the players to contrive solutions on how to best use Hacjivah, with former Lions and current Springbok lock Marvin Orie at the brains.
“It was quite beautiful that Hacjivah found himself and was quite comfortable in the environment,” said Hlungwani.
“He’s got a lot of mates, he knew Marvin and he’s from Cape Town, so it made it quite easy for him to fit in.
“The special part about it is that, if you don’t ask questions, you’ll never know what the person has inside that you haven’t seen before.
“Because our environment is player-driven, sometimes you put an idea on the table and say guys, ‘We need to solve this,’ and the guys will come back to you.
“Marvin and Hacjivah know each other quite well and Marvin said he thought Hacjivah would be the best jumper in that position (No 7).
“I’d be like, ‘Hacjivah doesn’t really jump much’ but he’d say he actually loves jumping. We tried it and then, boom, it was amazing.
“Ernst van Rhyn would come and say where he preferred to jump, so you take a lot of guidance from the players. It is a trait of our environment … We let them run the [lineout] system and we learn from each other.
“In saying that, it’s not the perfect environment. We still have a lot of work to do to make it better but those are some of the things we did well, which helped us get to where we got to.”
Orie is understatedly good at linking fellow players to align in lineouts. He did the same with hooker Malcolm Marx, who had trouble with his throwing as a youngster before a season with Orie helped straighten his throw-ins.
Dayimani, a former SA Schools product, could be one on the next tier watchlist for national honours at this rate, should Springbok selectors require something different to complement the staple of tree-trunk loose-forwards in their pack.
Dayimani, you imagine after the URC season’s performances, is not too far off.