South Africa international Tonderai Chavhanga, reputedly the quickest player in rugby, has swapped Newlands for Newport in order to get his career back in the fast lane with the Dragons.
The 27-year-old follows a well-trodden route to Rodney Parade and is in line to make his debut for Darren Edwards’ side against Ulster this Friday night.
Since bursting onto the scene with the Springboks in 2005, Chavhanga – who was clocked doing the 100m in 10.5 seconds as a schoolboy – has suffered a frustrating couple of years with injuries.
But having seen the revitalising effect South Wales has had on the careers of 2007 World Cup winners Bobby Skinstad and Percy Montgomery, Chavhanga is convinced he can also rediscover his best form under Edwards.
He said: “When Percy came here, he was not at the top of his game when he left but there was something in the water here that got him going again.
“He finished his career on such a high winning the World Cup with South Africa, I hope it is the same for me.
“Obviously there have been a few South Africans that have played for Newport so when the opportunity came I pounced on it and I’m very excited.
“They play a running brand of rugby and love to spread the ball around which is something I enjoy, so hopefully I can fit into that.
“I played against Dragons in 2005 in a pre-season game in Dubai so I had some kind of experience and I heard the league here is a lot faster than the English Premiership which is something that attracted me to it.
“When I was speaking to my agent about the Dragons, he said they love to spread the ball around. In general the ball goes to the wing quite a lot.
“I haven’t played in a while, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the ball and fine-tuning my overall skills again.
“They would have seen I have a bit of speed but I still have got a while to go before I can be happy with my performance.”
‘A bit of speed’ is a slight understatement. Chavhanga, who grew up in Zimbabwe, has left some of the world’s best wingers trailing his wake in seven years of Super Rugby with the Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers.
He also holds the South African record for tries in a single game – six on his debut against Uruguay in 2005 – and it is no surprise to learn his family has an athletic background: his uncle was Warrior on the South African version of Gladiators.
But Chavhanga is keen to downplay his pace maintaining there’s more to his game than just flat out speed.
He said: “I’m a wing, I’m not supposed to be slow and here’s quite a number of guys that can claim that spot [fastest in the world].
“Even here in Wales, Shane Williams has been around for a while and yet he’s still doing very well and looking very fast.
“I’ve played with Bryan Habana him and against him since we started around the same time, but there’s faster guys than him in South Africa. And if you look at the [Pacific] Islanders, they are always fast.
“I’d like to think there’s more to me than just speed. Having speed is not enough. You’ve got to be as well-rounded as you can be.
“I can’t just hunt for tries but I have to serve the team in whatever way my role is required. I am sure one of my main roles is to score tries so I hope I will be crossing that white line a few times this season.”