Siya later‚ Dyantyi might have told a muddled English pressman

Siya Kolisi takes a selfie during the DHL Western Province training session at Bishops High School on October 11, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Siya Kolisi takes a selfie during the DHL Western Province training session at Bishops High School on October 11, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

“Siya …” came the beginning of a question from an English reporter at the Springboks’ press conference on Thursday.

It grew into an enquiry centered on the “huge physical encounters between England and South Africa in the past”.

Fair enough. Except that Bok flank and captain Siya Kolisi wasn’t in the room. Instead‚ winger Aphiwe Dyantyi was behind the microphones.

Dyantyi‚ the epitome of politeness when he had sat down with a chirpy‚ “Hello everybody”‚ now surveyed his‚ at best‚ ignorant inquisitor with something like irritation.

His arms were crossed‚ his chin snug with his Adam’s apple‚ his forehead jagging low and forward‚ his eyebrows arched‚ and his eyes beaming steady and smoking.

If he had bad manners‚ he might have said‚ “See ya later”‚ rose and left.

If he had a snarky sense of humour‚ he could have said‚ “Siya later.”

As in‚ at Friday’s captain’s presser.

Instead‚ Dyantyi said‚ “You talking to me?”

Indeed‚ the reporter was.

“It’s two great packs of forwards‚” Dyantyi said‚ deadpan.

“It’s going to be a very tasty contest up front.”

Seated to Dyantyi’s right‚ Warren Whiteley smiled through his quizzical frown‚ and turned his head towards his teammate: “Tasty?”

Dyantyi‚ still deadpan‚ still staring straight ahead‚ continued: “Ja‚ it’s going to be a tasty one.”

Whiteley couldn’t help bursting the bubble‚ melting into a snigger with: “You’re going to be on the wing‚ though …”

Eish‚ these South Africans. They all look the same to some people‚ né.

Whiteley also fielded a question from the dark side of the moon: “Did that game against Japan in 2015 knock complacency out of the Springboks forever more?”

Japan’s 34-32 triumph over the Boks at the 2015 World Cup was a contest for the ages‚ a wonderful game of David and Goliath and rugby that was celebrated the oval globe over — including by legions of South Africans who knew an epic when they saw one.

But it was also more than three years ago‚ time in which South Africa have played 45 matches. Saturday’s 23 for the first Test of the end-of-year-tour‚ against England at Twickenham‚ includes only six of those who fell victim to the Cherry Blossoms.

It was Whiteley’s turn to be deadpan‚ which he managed after greeting the question with a look not unlike that on the face of a camper tumbling out of a tent first thing in the morning to find a goat eating his laundry.

“At this present moment I don’t think about it at all‚” he said‚ face still straight.

“Maybe if you had to watch the game or think of that World Cup it‚ you would remember it.

“We’re wise enough to know that you need to be the best that you can be.

“We’ve been through hard times in the past couple of years.

“We know you need to be on top of your game on this tour.

“You’re going to be tested.

“As a rugby supporter‚ obviously it’s something you remember.”

You knew Whiteley had to run out of the right things to say at some stage …

“But I’m not going to go and sit in my room and …” — again the melting snigger‚ a proper laugh this time — “… think of the Japan loss as a motivation for this weekend.”

Eish‚ these English. They’re all the same.

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