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Back You are here: Home Sports Rugby Kwa Zulu Natal Featured Player: Tyler Fisher- The 2011 Edition
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 09:58

Featured Player: Tyler Fisher- The 2011 Edition

In the March 2010 edition of this publication, we brought the numerous talents of Tyler Fisher to the attention of the country.

 

TFWhen we usually feature a sportsperson with ‘numerous talents’, images of all-rounders in the Herschelle Gibbs and Conrad Jantjes mould are conjured; of that rare athlete who is able to not only compete in countless sporting codes, but thrive.

Barely out of grade ten at the time of our first meeting, it was clear by his build that Fisher was a rugby man through and through. In an age where schoolboy sport can be described as semi-professional at the very least, Tyler exhibited a work ethic and lifestyle of a pro. His year comprises of touch rugby, fitness, sevens, conditioning and the regular season of the second term. The modern day practice of unions contracting the best and brightest straight out of school means that the budding pro needs to concentrate on his chosen pursuit at an increasingly early age.   

Physically, Tyler is an intriguing mix of boyish features on a body of a barbarian. Despite this, his conditioning suggests natural growth mirrored by reputedly intense workouts. When scouting future prospects, a telltale sign of an athlete set to be plagued by habitual injury is the all too common bloated muscular appearance. Tyler is rather in the league of WP u19 utility back Warren Seals and older brother Kayde Fisher; all of which have superior physical development that their frames comfortably handle. 

Coming from an incredibly close family, it came as little surprise that Tyler joined Kayde in signing with the Sharks for the next two years, despite offers from around the country. Kayde is currently in his second year at the Sharks and can be found in the centre or on the wing for the Sharks under twenty-one squad. A once feared negative repercussion of the siblings both being natural outside centres (in the same junior provincial setup) is that they might find themselves in direct competition in the not too distant future; but former Westville Boys High and current Sharks backline coach Hugh Reece-Edwards managed to expertly maneuver them into the same starting lineup in 2009, when Tyler, still under sixteen at the time, played most of the season on the wing. In the modern game where flyhalves are expected to clear rucks and tight forwards defend a backline channel if need be, positional constraints are but an illusion and it comes as a twist of timeous fate that the brothers Fisher and Reece-Edwards could very well be working together again in the not too distant future.      

But before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s important to first consolidate the season that was. Coming off the embarrassingly talented Westville first XV of 2010, a relatively inexperienced class of 2011 meant that much responsibility lay on the broad shoulders of Fisher and exceedingly classy wing, Keagan Boulle (who we featured in last month’s edition). After steamrolling Kearsney College in the televised FNB Classic Clash in 2010, many perceived Westville to be the underdogs at home in the return fixture of 2011. After all, Kearsney had left the reputation of rivals Hilton College in tatters with a 42-0 win and any questions of their ability to close down Fisher were met with reminders that Kearsney had managed to get through their 24-3 loss to Grey College whilst largely subduing the much talked about Grey midfield combination of Jan Serfontein and Dries Swanepoel. It proved to be a fixture where Fisher solidified his place as the bona fide superstar of KZN schoolboy rugby.

Running onto Bowdens field, Fisher looked like a man amongst boys and his first significant touch of the ball brought about a Westville try as he combined with his centre partner to go over for the score. Breaking the line at will, Tyler seemed to enjoy the role of creator as much as he did try scorer and one got the feeling that he could have found himself over the whitewash if he was more selfish with the ball (a piece of constructive criticism that was later leveled at him by the Supersport commentary team during Craven Week).     

Fast forward a few months and a record Seventeen tries in sixteen matches capped a satisfying campaign for the 97kg powerhouse, but his true test would lie in Kimberley. The 2011 edition of the Coca-Cola Craven Week did not prove itself kind to the KZN outfit by way of scheduled opponents; but the boys in black and white raised more than a few eyebrows when they outmuscled a Western Province side that boasted current SA Schools representatives as well as a batch of returning players with Craven Week experience. Effortlessly breaking the first line of defence, the WP fullback stood little chance against a prospect who is equally equipped with the ability to run over you as he is with finesse to leave you flat footed.

Whilst the try against Province may have been ala Yannick Jauzion, his bulldozing effort against the Lions would have made Ma’a Nonu beam with pride. With the Johannesburg outfit being Monument Hoerskool in all but name, widely held opinion was that KZN would be physically outmuscled and resultantly intimidated. Somebody forget to send Fisher the memo and he managed to score from close range; taking four defenders with him for the ride. “I told you! If KZN want to score, they must give Fisher the ball. Give that man the ball!” screamed Hugh Bladen with an air of prophesied satisfaction. Despite KZN suffering a heartbreaking defeat to the Lions (pivot Jaco van der Walt exhibited nerves of steel to slot a match winning penalty after the hooter), they most certainly gained the respect of all and sundry.

The untelevised clash with the Blue Bulls did not go as planned, but the sense of disappointment was somewhat nullified when Fisher and winger Siyabonga Tom were selected for the SA Schools squad to face the French under eighteens. There may have been nervous concerns that the selectors would find no place for Fisher, due to the presence and reputations of the Free State duo, but hindsight brought the realization that they had very little choice but to include him; and whilst selection (or missing out, for that matter) is by no means a measurement for future stardom, it is safe to say that his rugby portfolio will prove extremely diversified in the upcoming months.

Indeed perhaps the greatest challenge facing Fisher’s minders will be managing his workload over the next few years. With his proven ability and mature physique, Tyler’s talents are being sought by all corners of the rugby fraternity as his reputation extends at an immeasurable speed across the length of the country.
An SA Schools appearance against France u18 on 20 August (which will serve as a curtain-raiser to the Springbok’s Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth) will be followed by the experience of a lifetime when he joins the SA under eighteen Sevens team at the Commonwealth Youth Games, to be held on the Isle of Man in September. Upon his return from international duty, the Westville matric will join the Sharks under nineteen squad for the remainder of their season.

An admirable initiative from the Natal Rugby Union is that they attempt to spread their playing resources amongst the local clubs to ensure a more competitive domestic league; and for this reason Tyler is unsure of where he will end up next year. For practicalities sake, it would make sense to allow him to combine with older brother Kayde at Varsity College Old Boys; who has established himself as a vital cog in the first XV of the Durban North outfit. 

A quick glance across the South African Super Rugby franchises brings forth a realization that the midfield is an area that is, with respect, a bit long in the tooth. It is more than likely that the likes of Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Stefan Terblanche, Jaco Pretorius and Doppies le Grange will hang up their boots (or move on to European pastures) at roughly the same time and this drain of valuable experience will also bring forth a sense of rigorous renewal in South African rugby. The depths of the age-group talent available in the centre position- not only in sheer numbers, but the quality these individuals- will bring us out of the self-deprecating shadows of Sonny-Bill worship and into the light of recognition that we have the talent waiting in the wings (excuse the expression). With thirty-eight tries in forty Westville appearances and three Craven Week touchdowns in as many starts, Tyler Fisher’s progression is simply a matter of time.

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