Hanno Dirksen is hoping to mark his first ever rugby return to his native South Africa by following in his father’s footsteps to celebrate a memorable landmark in front of family members.
Fan’s favourite Dirksen has lived in Swansea for almost 10 years now, since arriving in South Wales in the summer of 2009, five years after his family had emigrated to the USA from Krugersdorp in the Gauteng Province, close to Johannesburg.
His family are steeped in South African rugby tradition. Uncle Corra represented the Springboks on 10 occasions during the sixties, including a 24-3 win over Wales in Durban in the summer of 1964, and two Tests in the ’68 series win over the British and Irish Lions.
More pertinently given the opponents this weekend should Dirksen retain his place in the starting XV following the win over the Dragons last time out, his father Hansie, a South Africa U21 cap, played for the Cheetahs during the eighties.
Currently sitting on 99 appearances in the Guinness PRO14 and its previous guises, if selected for Saturday’s crucial game the popular winger will hit the century against a club his father Hansie represented with distinction.
With the team arriving in Bloemfontein late on Tuesday afternoon, they enjoyed their first rugby session of the two-week trip to South Africa on Wednesday at the famous Grey College, finishing just before the heavens opened and a storm broke over the city. It was a trip down memory lane for Hanno, who revealed he had been there, and scored, many years previous.
“15-years ago I was playing on this pitch for my school” recalled Dirksen after the session had finished.
“I played at the Toyota Stadium once as well, the same week, as part of the same tournament, so it will be nice to run out there at the weekend for the Ospreys and hopefully get a win where my Dad used to play as well.
“It’s nice to be back here, and to see some family while we are here.
“I’ve got a lot of my Mum’s family in Bloemfontein so no doubt they are going to be there, hopefully supporting us rather than the Cheetahs, but it’s very nice to catch up with them as well
“It’s nice to be back here, and to see some family while we are here. It still feels a bit surreal being in South Africa, playing for the Ospreys, I’m just going to enjoy every moment of it and hopefully we can have a good game.”
A huge influence on Hanno, father Hansie remains his biggest supporter despite being based in the States. Asked who the former Cheetah would be supporting this weekend, Dirksen Jr provided an insight into his father’s viewing habits:
“He always watches the games online” he said.
“He’ll definitely be supporting the Ospreys on Saturday. He’s normally sitting in Starbucks with the Internet, shouting at his iPad!
After Saturday it’s Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth next weekend, before the Ospreys return to Wales to face Cardiff Blues at Principality Stadium on the final day of the regular season and Dirksen said the team understands the need to end the season on a winning run to hopefully extend the campaign into May. He continued:
“We’ve got to build on our win last time out (against the Dragons), get the win and then take it into the Kings game next weekend. Obviously then its Judgement Day where we always seem to perform well. Hopefully we can turn up there on a big occasion and end the season with three wins.”