A journey like no other for Zas

PUBLISHED: November 17, 2023

Leolin Zas will reach a half-century of DHL Stormers caps when he runs out at Thomond Park this weekend, the latest milestone on what has been a remarkable journey.

The speedster first burst onto the scene in 2016 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, making his DHL Stormers debut at Newlands in the first match of the season at Newlands and marking the occasion with a try.

He has since gone on to score 24 more tries in 48 more matches since then, but there have been some considerable highs and lows along the way.

Zas finished his first season of Super Rugby as the DHL Stormers’ top try-scorer as the team finished third on the overall standings, but disaster struck in early 2017 when he suffered a horrific leg injury in a pre-season match.

That marked the beginning of a long spell on the sidelines and the pride of Hermanus would leave the Cape to start afresh in Durban where he spent a few seasons.

He returned to the DHL Stormers in 2020 and was forced to work his way back into contention, with a number of talented outside backs ahead of him in the pecking order at that stage.

He got an opportunity when the inaugural Vodacom United Rugby Championship kicked off in late 2021, scoring three tries on the tour at the start of the season and making himself indispensable to the cause.

He would go on to be the top try-scorer in the competition that season, but tragically missed out on playing in the Grand Final at DHL Stadium after suffering an injury in the semifinal against Ulster.

Having watched his teammates lift the trophy, Zas was back the following season and would play in a home Grand Final as the DHL Stormers missed out against Munster at DHL Stadium.

After eight years he will play his 50th match for the DHL Stormers against the same opposition this weekend and Head Coach John Dobson praised the prolific wing for his incredible resilience.

“Leolin has a fantastic story, he started out as a prodigious talent who suffered a major injury setback and came back a different player. He embodies the fighting spirit we want to play with and we are thrilled for him to reach his DHL Stormers half-century this weekend,” he said.