Ask him what might drive the Stormers to the semis this year and Dewaldt Duvenage doesn’t hesitate. “We’re hungrier; we have the appetite to finally take the next step.”
Many of the Stormers in last year’s Super 14 final also played in the 2009 Currie Cup semifinal and 2010 final, each time narrowly missing victory.
The New Zealand and Australian teams look formidable but the Stormers, on whom SA fans’ hopes are increasingly pinned, clearly are super-motivated.
The quicksilver scrumhalf has been important in the WP and Stormers’ revival – in fact essential to the Western Cape machine and many fans would love to see him progress to Test rugby.
It’s a Thursday morning and Dewaldt is at home in Durbanville, Cape Town, with his girlfriend, Nické Bellingan. “My goal is to play for the Boks,” he readily admits. “I’m still young and gaining experience,” he adds.
Although his decisions on the field often suggest greater experience, the former Boland player is the youngest among those who could one day succeed Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez – he turns 23 on 22 May.
Her seemingly laid-back law student boyfriend has a pragmatic approach to life and believes in putting in extra effort, Nické (22) says. She hails from Bloemfontein and studied events management in Cape Town. They’ve been an item for about a year.
“For example, if the team starts at eight, Dewaldt is there from seven. He loves what he does. And then he makes me exercise with him in the evenings.”
Dewaldt believes solid team spirit and a well-balanced coaching system have been important factors in getting the Western Cape franchise back up among the top teams.
The Duvenages love sport. Dewaldt’s father, Otto, played provincial rugby and his older brothers, Etienne and Andus, were also talented players. Mom Ilona, a nurse, played hockey.
Dewaldt attended Paarl Gymnasium, where first-team coach Christoff Lotter was influential in developing his game. He also played cricket for Boland as opening batsman and spin bowler.
At the time of going to press the Sharks still had to be tackled and then the Crusaders, who want to add another Super Rugby title to their existing seven titles.
Dewaldt says his side will take things one step at a time. “Like my friend [Stormers back] Gio Aplon, who lives next door, always says, ‘There are no shortcuts to success.’ ”
Read more about Dewaldt's dreams in YOU, 5 May 2011.