With his bleached-blonde hair it is pretty hard to miss Hanno Dirksen as it is, but the winger’s performances for the Ospreys in the RaboDirect PRO12 that have really caught the eye.
When it comes to filling the Ospreys’ wide berths, the position comes with certain expectations and pressure.
For years the Liberty Stadium faithful have been fortunate enough to witness two of the finest practitioners in wing play in the Northern Hemisphere: Wales legend Shane Williams and Ireland flier Tommy Bowe, who finished as leading try scorer in the 2012 Six Nations.
But Williams will be playing his last club game at the RDS for Sunday’s RaboDirect PRO12 Grand Final against Leinster while Bowe will return to Ulster at the end of the season, leaving 21-year-old Dirksen to fill the void.
Already the South African born star has finished as their regular season’s leading try scorerand has collected silverware for the RaboDirect PRO12 Try of the Season against Edinburgh.
And Dirksen says he does not feel out of place strutting his stuff against Leinster’s stellar division of backs.
“They’re all world-class players and that’s the main goal for me,” said Dirksen. “You have to play the best to become the best.
“It’s been an amazing year for me. In the past seven weeks or so, I’ve had the opportunity to start every game and it’s been amazing to get wins out of all those hard games we had. It’s very exciting to be in a final.
“It’s been an incredible couple of years training with these sorts of these guys and I’ve learned so much off them. Tommy and Nikki Walker being injured has been unlucky for them, but it’s given me a chance to get some game time and I’ve tried to make the most of it.
“The final is just another game – I try not to think about it as this massive thing in front of you, like the semi-final was just another game. I’ll just try and put in a good performance.”
After their Heineken Cup final demolition of Ulster, Leinster will start as favourites on their home patch.
The Ospreys though have plenty of cause for hope: last year Leinster fell short after their Heineken Cup triumph in the final against Munster while two years ago Ospreys ran out 17-12 winners at the RDS.
More importantly, in the eyes of Dirksen, was their performance in the semi-final as Munster were cut to ribbons in the Ospreys 45-10.
And Dirksen admits a repeat performance is the very least that will be required in Dublin.
“We’ve got to go there with the same mindset that we’ve had for the past seven games and play like we did against Munster,” he said.
“Our defence was incredible, but their [Leinster’s] defence was amazing last weekend [against Ulster] as well so you have to give them credit. We just have to keep the ball and we’ll be fine.
“In the Munster game, the pack laid the platform, but it needed a cutting edge to get ahead and certainly to score the number of points that we did. It was quite a nice blend.
“They have won the European Cup three times in four years now and that’s an incredible achievement for them.
“They will obviously want to win another trophy and you have to take your hat off to them for being in two finals. We’ve just got to give our all, stick together as a team and it will be a good game.”