Aphiwe Dyantyi. Picture: REUTERS
Aphiwe Dyantyi. Picture: REUTERS

Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi won the Breakthrough Player of the Year award at World Rugby’s annual prizegiving in Monaco on Sunday.

The 24-year-old was visibly stunned when he was named in a category that pitted him against Ireland wing Jordan Larmour and new All Black prop Karl Tu’inukuafe.

Dyantyi follows an illustrious list of winners of the award since its inception in 2015. All Black wing Rieko Ioane won in 2017‚ England lock Maro Itoje in 2016 and All Black wing Nehe Milner-Skudder (2015).

The speedy Bok winger marked his Test debut with a try against England in June.

He started in 13 of SA’s 14 Tests in 2018‚ scoring six tries‚ including braces against Argentina and in the win over world champions New Zealand in Wellington.

Upon receiving the award‚ Dyantyi described his year as “more than a roller-coaster”.

“I’ve been truly blessed in so many ways‚ with the people around me‚ who have helped me in the past few years — it’s really amazing‚” Dyantyi said.

“Being part of the Springboks‚ representing our country — it doesn’t get any better. I’m very honoured as I never imagined I would ever be the one sitting here‚ receiving an award such as this.

“I just want to keep on challenging myself to keep on improving and hopefully making a difference for our country‚ but also in someone else’s life‚ who will see my story as an inspiration to do something great out there. That is my ultimate goal.”

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander heaped praise on Dyantyi. “Aphiwe has been sensational since making the step up to senior provincial rugby, and after a superb debut season for the Lions‚ he was deservedly called up to the Springbok squad‚” he said.

“Despite his limited experience at international level‚ Aphiwe never looked out of place in the Springbok jersey.

“It was his two tries in Wellington though‚ when the Boks beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in nine years‚ that will be remembered.”

SA’s other nominees — Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx in the World Player of the Year category — lost out to Ireland flyhalf Jonny Sexton in the main award.