Sharks speedster Thaakir Abrahams has shown opponents in the United Rugby Championship that what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in heart, pace and guile.
The Cape-born pocket rocket, Abrahams is a product of Cape rugby factory, Paarl Boys’ High. There he starred alongside last season’s URC breakout star, Stormers No 8 Evan Roos, in the famed Boishaai team that went on a 60-match unbeaten streak.
Abrahams played age-group rugby for Western Province before joining the Sharks in Durban, and then turned out in the U21 Currie Cup before representing South Africa at the Junior Rugby World Cup in Argentina.
A ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-him’ talent, Abrahams enjoyed a breakthrough season for the Sharks in the 2021 Currie Cup, earning plaudits for his ability to beat opponents with his excellent footwork and breaking tackles despite his diminutive frame.
He shot the lights out in the domestic competition, scoring a fantastic hat-trick at Emirates Airline Park as the Sharks strode to a 56-14 victory against the Emirates Lions, but his contribution to the team’s inaugural BKT URC quest ended almost one year ago to the day when he suffered an injury in the sixth minute of the Round 3 win against Ospreys in Swansea.
The 22-year-old is in a rush to make up for lost time and he has seized his chance with the Sharks in the absence of Springbok left wing Makazole Mapimpi.
Abrahams opened his URC account this season in emphatic fashion against Dragons RFC with a supreme finish for a touchdown after some stunning interplay.
A formidable threat in the wide channels, his try-scoring and game-breaking exploits have mostly come at wing, yet Abrahams is equally explosive from fullback.
His evasive skills have drawn comparisons to Bok dynamo Cheslin Kolbe who has changed perceptions on whether smaller players can make it in Test rugby.
Abrahams is flattered to be in the same conversation as the World Cup winner.
“[Kolbe] is an inspiration and certainly someone I look up to,” he said. “He’s a great player, one of the best wings and finishers in the world, so to be compared to him is quite an honour.
“Growing up I was inspired by players like JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana. While I was playing in high school and primary school, those were the guys who were on form and guys I looked up to.
“I always tried to watch their games every Saturday. I was quite excited to see them on the field.”
There is more to the speedster than meets the eye, quite literally in the case of Abrahams whose success on the rugby field not only contradicts his small stature but also belies the limitations presented by him being visually impaired.
“When I started playing rugby I had really bad eyesight. I could barely see the ball when my teammates passed the ball to me,” Abrahams said.
“At the age of nine, I got my first pair of contact lenses and from there my rugby skills improved, and I started achieving more in other sports as well.”
The future is bright for the ambitious Abrahams who looks poised to carve up defences every time he touches the ball.