Stormers coach Robbie Fleck likes to call Dillyn Leyds a “footballer”, a guy with an abundance of skill and a fantastic rugby brain. A lot of people outside the Stormers camp think so, too, and that is why they always talk about him having the potential to become a world-class flyhalf.
However, he showed last season that he doesn’t need the No 10 on his back to pop up at first receiver, as former Stormers coach Allister Coetzee used him to take the ball flat in the flyhalf channel on numerous occasions last season.
Leyds is supposed to be the fullback cover for Cheslin Kolbe this year, but he has been in such good form that he can’t be left out of the starting team - Leyds played on the wing in the Stormers’ 33-9 win against the Bulls last Saturday in their Super Rugby opener.
The former Bishops flyhalf, though, doesn’t care where he plays - just maybe not in the front row! - as long as he can be a part of the Stormers team.
“We have a great bunch of guys, and it’s great to be on the field with them and experiencing victories like we did this weekend,” Leyds said this week.
“It’s not a big deal for me where I’m playing. I just want to enjoy this special journey we are taking.”
With rookie playmaker Robert du Preez coming through last weekend’s game against the Stormers’ arch-rivals largely unscathed, Leyds’ role may be a bit different this year.
Du Preez, unlike former Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, is the kind of flyhalf who can take the ball to the line and get his backs on the front foot. He is also a strong boy who can attack the gain-line himself.
Fleck, though, still wants the likes of Leyds and Kolbe to get their hands on the ball as much as possible. But they need to be a bit more selective this season because, ultimately, Du Preez needs to take more and more responsibility as time goes on.
“Fleckie and I have chatted about it, and giving me that role to step in. But obviously I must know when to do that, and not to over play my hand,” Leyds said.
“Myself and Cheslin have that roaming role to get our hands on the ball, but we’ve got very good ball players in Rob du Preez and Juan (de Jongh) in that inside channel as well to make the decisions. If for some reason they are not there, myself and Cheslin will step up to try and control things.”
The Stormers head to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs on Saturday for their second match of the new competition. The Free State side narrowly lost to the Jagueres last Friday in a match that was played at a frenetic pace.
The Stormers don’t have a great record in Bloemfontein over the last few seasons. Last year, their lineout and their goal-kicking malfunctioned to hand the Cheetahs victory.
“The Stormers haven’t won there in recent years, and it’s a point that we have noted,” Leyds said.
“They really want to play an expansive style of rugby, and they are known for it.
“They are a side that goes in with nothing to lose, and they always want to play an exciting brand of rugby and throw the ball around.
“We had quite a good defensive effort on the weekend by not conceding any tries. For us, it’s just going to be a different challenge this week, but we want to keep the Cheetahs tryless as well.”
Original source: Leyds free to roam for Stormers