We meet a fresh force on the World Sevens Series
LIKE A hospital pass that’s so bad it sucks you into the ambulance, Dietrich Roache can see the question coming. But the rapid wide-out answers kindly. “It’s kinda weird because both my parents are Samoan and I was born here in Australia, but yeah, it’s a German name so everyone does wonder where it comes from,” he says to the dumbest of openers, about his forename. “It’s from my dad’s side and I think a few generations up we had a few Germans. And Dietrich is actually my dad’s (Kruger) middle name.”
Union was not always on the radar for Roache, who had a grounding in league. However, after a family outing in 2018, he saw the Sydney Sevens and was struck by a bolt of inspiration. This, he thought, was the game for him. He turned his energy towards it, full blast.
By 2020 he’d earnt himself a sevens contract. And by 2021? Roache was an Olympian, competing for Australia at the Tokyo Games and finding himself (safely distanced, of course) in the vicinity of some sizeable sporting icons.
He says of their base: “It was about a 400m walk to the dining hall where all the countries came together to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. And obviously we had to wear masks and sanitise, but they couldn’t really avoid (people interacting). So I was lucky enough to see some big superstars. I think basketball is my second sport and I got to meet KD, Kevin Durant!”
Roache jokes that if he had not found sevens and if he was maybe a skoosh taller – say a foot or so – he too could be an NBA star like KD. But in sevens his leap has been rocket-fuelled.
He credits father Kruger with not only helping him master the art of goal setting but in helping him find his way in front of the right talent assessors. Since, it has been down to Dietrich to hone his craft. He works on his speed and the laws of the game are still fairly new to him. Then there is kicking for goal or restarts – that curious part of sevens that requires focus and steady process after the chaos of running.
He has excelled on this year’s Sevens Series. But has there ever been a point where it hit him like a ton of bricks how tough this gig can be? “In the Dubai final against South Africa,” he says. “It was pretty crazy – the way they defend, the pressure they put us under, line speed.
“And Selvyn Davids, the way he moves around the field. I joked, ‘Please don’t run at me!’ Because he’s very quick on his feet and has great vision as well.”
His own fine play aside, Roache has also been able to help touring team-mates out with hairdressing skills, having spent hours honing his ‘fade’ on his poor family members. “I don’t have the confidence yet to cut the coach’s hair!” he adds, fast.
But surely not even a shocking chop could stop this fleet-footed star’s progress.
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