Sias Ebersohn is part of a crop of exciting young playmakers in South Africa that have just come through their first full Super Rugby seasons and who now seem to be running things in South African provincial rugby.
Players like Elton Jantjies, Patrick Lambie and Jaco Taute, to name the obvious examples, seem poised to take South African backline play into an exciting new era.
The introduction of Ebersohn at flyhalf for the Cheetahs a couple of games into their Super Rugby season seemed to coincide with a different approach the Bloemfontein team were taking as 'kicking flyhalf' Naas Olivier looked on from the bench.
The Cheetahs transformed themselves as a team that would run the ball from anywhere, they scored plenty of tries and supporters playing their new attractive brand of rugby and recorded significant results such as their first win in Australia and an impressive defeat of the Crusaders in Bloemfontein.
Ebersohn revealed to this website that the young, injury-hit squad had taken a realistic attitude towards their prospects and committed to a different direction.
"We were in a position where we knew we couldn't win the competition but the least we could do was to enjoy ourselves and play for pride, and I think that was the key to our success in the last 10 to 15 games," he said.
One thing Ebersohn seemed to have was the element of surprise, no-one was paying too close attention to him when he got his first break, and the confident flyhalf exploited that. But things have changed and there seems to be a little less room to move these days.
Ebersohn commented: "In Super Rugby I don't think anyone even knew what my name was or where I had played before, so I think that made it easier for me to play. Now all of a sudden everyone is talking about you and what you can do and how they need to put some more pressure on you."
With so much young talent surfacing at pivot recently, and players like Demetri Catrakilis winning the Currie Cup player of the month award, Ebersohn admits that it is necessary to excel to stand out in the competition.
"I think in the Currie Cup there is more pressure but that is where you must show everyone that you are the quality player that can take that pressure and turn it into something good," he said.
To book his place near the front of what is becoming a lengthening queue Ebersohn knows it is not enough to be one dimensional and he is intent on showcasing his all-round capabilities.
He explained: "If you want to be the best flyhalf you should be able to fit into any gameplan. If your coach needs you to play a defensive game you need to defend, if he wants you to play an attacking game then you must be able to attack, or if he needs you to play a kicking game then you must kick.
"I would not say that I am a jack of all trades but I like to combine all of those things in a game and try and strike a balance," added Ebersohn.
That versatility will be put to the test in the next month or so, the Cheetahs face the Blue Bulls this weekend and that is followed up with crucial games against the Sharks, Western Province and the Lions.
Ebersohn and his team's credentials are set to be intensely examined and it remains to be seen whether they can extend the relative success of their Super Rugby campaign, but what is for sure is that this is one of the most high-stakes Currie Cups in a long time.
There will be something of a vacuum of experienced players after the World Cup, but there do seem to be an encouraging amount of talented players around to at least make the scrap over their places interesting.
Ebersohn is still relatively young and may only pull on the Green in Gold at a much later stage, but he is the type of player who most people would want to get a shot even though they might not admit it.
By Michael de Vries
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