Future star: William van Wyk

William van Wyk was the standout backline player for WP U19 in their title-winning campaign this season.

The 1.75m, 70kg flyhalf played in 12 fixtures – he missed two because of a groin injury midway through the campaign – and scored 80 points, which is an impressive stat considering he was his team’s second-choice goal-kicker.

In the final in Durban against the Blue Bulls U19s, Van Wyk played a key role in WP’s 26-20 victory. He was pivotal in their attacking dominance in the first half and took over the kicking duties from Ulrich Beyers after the fullback missed two early penalties. Van Wyk kicked two conversions, a penalty and drop goal to secure a 20-6 half-time lead, and then slotted a crucial drop goal and penalty in the second stanza to keep his team ahead as the Bulls came back strongly.

‘The final was a great experience,’ says Van Wyk. ‘The second half was tough but I made the right decisions considering the match situation and the amount of time left. As expected, the Bulls came out strongly in the second half and they were tough to beat.’

Van Wyk was born and bred in Ceres. He attended Koue Bokkeveld Primary, where he started out as a scrumhalf, and became a boarder at Paarl Gymnasium. He had a short stint at flyhalf in Grade 10 and moved there permanently for the 1st XV in his matric year in 2009 after the first-choice pivot suffered a serious injury.

Van Wyk thrived in his new role. After impressing in the No 10 jersey for his school that year, he was selected for the WP U18 Craven Week side, who were crowned the unofficial champions. He was also chosen for the SA U18 High Performance and SA Schools sides last year.

‘Flyhalf is where I want to be,’ says Van Wyk. ‘At scrumhalf, I felt my attacking strengths were limited. I enjoy moving the ball, attacking the opposition’s defence and being in a playmaker’s role.’

WP U19 coach Nazeem Adams says Van Wyk improved a lot during the 2010 season.

‘I was really impressed with William this year,’ says Adams. ‘I first saw him at the WP Craven Week trials last year, but he is a stronger and more confident player now. He has the all-round qualities a flyhalf should have. He is good on attack, strong on defence and accurate with the boot.

‘William’s improvement comes from the time he’s spent at the WP Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch, where we focus a lot on our junior players’ development. His game will improve as he gains more experience and he needs to bide his time with the U21s. He shouldn’t be rushed into the senior side too quickly.

‘Looking at WP’s young flyhalves like Lionel Cronjé, Gary van Aswegen and William, there are exciting times ahead. William can make it to the top, especially when you consider his attacking strengths.’

With Willem de Waal off to Treviso in Italy next season and no replacements signed, Van Wyk is fourth in WP’s flyhalf pecking order behind Peter Grant, Cronjé and Van Aswegen. But Van Wyk, who was voted WP U19 Back of the Year, knows he needs to be patient.

‘I’m committed to WP and I know I must wait for my senior opportunities,’ he says. ‘I won’t be interested in offers from other unions. WP have played a big part in my development as a player and I’m happy here in the Cape.’

By Gareth Duncan

– This article first appeared in SA Rugby magazine.