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His name is Rio… and he dances on the pitch (with apologies to Duran Duran)

19 Oct 2022 4 minute read
Rio Dyer (Credit: Inpho Photography)

Simon Thomas

He’s scored one of the tries of the season so far in the BKT URC and that scintillating solo effort has played its part in Rio Dyer receiving the call from Wales.

The 22-year-old uncapped Dragons winger has been named in Wayne Pivac’s squad for the autumn internationals against New Zealand, Argentina, Georgia and Australia.

Explaining the selection, Kiwi coach Pivac pointed to Dyer’s thrilling touchdown in the Round 2 victory over Munster as an example of what he likes about the young speedster.

It certainly was a special effort. Taking a pass inside his own half, he burst between two would-be tacklers and then put on the afterburners to arc outside the last man for what proved to be a match-winning effort.

Pivac revealed that Dyer had also shown his predatory talent when called into camp ahead of this summer’s tour of South Africa, shining in a training ground match.

“When you saw the try he scored against Munster, the in-out, those are glimpses of what he can do and he did that in camp as well,” he said.

“Rio trained with us before we went to South Africa. He was one of a group of players that came into camp to help the squad prepare and he performed well.

“So we know a lot about him. He’s got exceptional pace, a great step, acceleration. You saw that in a couple of games this year already with the Dragons and he did well in our internal match that we had before going to South Africa. That was no holds barred.

“I think he scored the first try. He showed good gas, awareness and he beat more than one player. He really impressed us in camp. He’s a player who has grown in stature in the last 12 months and he’s currently playing really well for the Dragons.”

Big blokes

Reflecting further on Dyer’s involvement ahead of the South Africa tour, Pivac said: “The biggest thing is when you see players go up against their peers in a national camp.

“Some players come in and they can’t handle the intensity of the training sessions because we have to train as though we are playing a Test match. There is a big gap between club and international. Some of the boys just don’t handle the volume or the training or the intensity.

“So those are the learnings we see. When a young guy like Rio excels in those training sessions, we know we’ve got to keep an eye on them.”

Pivac added: “Rio is very quick and has a little bit more size than some other candidates. In the modern game, there’s no getting away from it, there are a lot of big blokes out on the park. He’s quite good in the air as well. At Test level, the aerial game is huge.”

A former pupil of Bassaleg School, Dyer began his rugby journey with Pill Harriers and Newport High School Old Boys, bringing the pace that saw him make his mark in athletics as a schoolboy sprinter.

The 6ft 1in, 13st 3lbs flier from Rogerstone, Newport, made his Dragons debut in January 2018 against Saracens in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, followed by his PRO14 debut a month later.

He now has 35 regional appearances under his belt and has scored nine tries along the way, while also representing Wales Sevens. His next assignment is Sunday’s derby against the Ospreys at Rodney Parade, a fixture in which he was named Man of the Match back in January 2020.

Dyer – who was clocked at an impressive 21 miles per hour at the New Zealand Sevens in 2019 – names Springbok legend Bryan Habana as a rugby idol.

“I used to like Habana because he was known as the quickest man in rugby and I wanted to be the quickest kid on the pitch,” he said.

“I used to see him on TV and he was a person I looked up to with his speed and some of the tries he used to score.”

Now Dyer is putting together his own eye-catching catalogue of tries and will be hoping to add an international one to his haul next month.

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