When the Top League Best XV was named last week it contained the usual plethora of All Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies and Brave Blossoms.
Yet this writer believes one other national team should have been represented.
Malaysian Dinesvaran Krishnan had an outstanding second year for Yamaha Jubilo, and his form and durability were key in Katsuyuki Kiyomiya’s team getting to the LIXIL Cup final.
That’s not to say that Andries Bekker and Shoji Ito didn’t deserve to be named the best locks, but the efforts of Krishnan should have been rewarded.
Fortunately, thanks to the wonders of social media, the big man’s skills have been seen far and wide, and there is talk of him possibly being included in the Barbarians side to take on Ireland and England in May.
“Did you say lock?” asked former All Black and commentator Richard Turner after he was shown a clip of Krishnan’s spectacular 60-metre try against Canon Eagles. “That was impressive regardless of the number (on his shirt).”
Krishnan – who goes by Duke in Japan “as it’s easier for my teammates to pronounce,” – remained modest of his success when Rugby News Japan caught up with him.
“It was hard when I first got here, The food, the language, the culture. And I didn’t get much playing time,” he said. “But the foreigners at the club have really helped me so this year has been a little better.”
Krishan in particular praised Mose Tuiali’i saying the former All Black “was a big part of my career. I struggled when I got here with fitness and the game plan. But he really helped.”
Given his past, it’s no real surprise that the 26-year-old Krishnan took a while to adapt to Japanese rugby..
“I first touched a rugby ball when I was 13 but only played for a few months as I moved to another school. Rugby’s not that popular in Malaysia and I didn’t play again until I was 19. I was working in a legal office but met up with the boys at Cobra rugby club and started playing again. Soon I was working in the bar at the club, and got the call-up to play for Malaysia under 19s.”
Determined to be a professional rugby player, Krishnan – who has since gone on to play seven tests for his country – came under the wing of former Hong Kong sevens player Johnny Gbenda Charles.
“Johnny asked me for some clips and in March 2013 I got a week trial at Yamaha.”
Jubilo were obviously impressed as he was signed and started preseason training with the club in June 2013.
“I was really happy and surprised,” Krishnan siad. “Marc Le had played in Japan with Ricoh so I was only the second Malaysian. All my old teammates were really supportive, and a lot are asking me how they can follow in my footsteps.”
As Krishnan admitted the first year wasn’t easy, but Yamaha were supportive and it was a trip they arranged that proved to be the turning point in Duke’s career.
“I went and trained with the Blue Bulls in South Africa for two months. Seeing how the Super Rugby players trained was an eye-opener. One of their coaches told me ‘You cannot be everything your coaches want. You can only do what you can do.’”
“That stuck in my mind. So when I came back to Japan I decided if the coaches like what I do then I will keep doing it. That’s what I do and it seems to work.”
The 1.95-metre, 120-kg Krishnan has spent some time on the wing – earning him the nickname the Malaysian Jonah Lomu – but he says he is much happy playing in the second row.
“There’s more work to do. I don’t like staying on the side.”
With a work ethic like that it’s no wonder he has settled in in Japan, and he hopes it won’t be long before other Malaysians are seen in Asia’s top competition
“I hope I have opened the doors to others,” he said.
Copyright Rugby News Japan 2015