Munster’s Simon Zebo replacement overcame ‘visual impairment’ before earning Cheslin Kolbe comparisons

Jared Wright
Simon Zebo snippet and South African flyer Thaakir Abrahams

Thaakir Abrahams has opened up on his early life struggles.

Munster have reportedly recruited South African flyer Thaakir Abrahams as Simon Zebo’s replacement ahead of next season.

The ex-Sharks speedster has spent this season at Lyon but is believed to be on his way to Munster after being granted an early release from his two-year deal.

A livewire outside back with blistering pace and an eye for a gap, Abrahams has had his fair share of struggles en route to becoming a professional rugby player, which he has opened up about.

Thaakir Abrahams’ journey

The 24-year-old hails from Paarl in the Western Cape province of South Africa and went on to attend the famous Paarl Boys High School, which also helped produce the likes of Frans Malherbe, Thomas du Toit, Salmaan Moerat and Evan Roos.

He would go on to represent the South African U20s team while heading to Durban to join the Sharks after his schooling, where the diminutive back’s performances and game-breaking footwork and pace drew comparisons to Springbok Cheslin Kolbe.

Munster pounce to sign Cheslin Kolbe-esque star to replace Simon Zebo while trio re-sign

Despite attending one of the biggest rugby schools in the country, Abrahams did have his struggles to overcome before going on to shine on the rugby pitch.

“I was very privileged having a big family supporting me but one thing that I did struggle with was may visual impairment,” the speedster said in an interview on the Sharks social media accounts in 2021.

“I have been struggling with my eyes since was I was born, I was never completely blind but I really struggle sometimes.”

Abrahams added that his parents never used his impairment to stop him from participating in sports or used it as an excuse for anything.

“My parents never used to limit me,” he said.

“Playing sport, doing contact sport, they never used to like to limit me to do things and I think that helped with my self-confidence, and that’s
very important in life and believe in yourself.”

Despite his impairment, his family’s love for rugby meant that he still chanced his arm at the sport from a young age.

“Everyone loves rugby and I really mean everyone; if you’re a boy, you’re going to play rugby, you grow up with rugby ball in your hands,” he said.

“When I was little – seven or eight – I had these big thick glasses and I had to take them off when I was playing and when I took them off
I couldn’t really see properly.

“But when I got my contacts when I was about nine years old, I could actually see, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is actually nice to play’.

“After that, I knew what to do now [on the pitch], where to go, where to run, and I could actually do this.”

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X-factor injection

The livewire back has featured on the wing and at full-back for both the Sharks and Lyon so far in his professional career.

He left the Sharks at the end of the 2022/23 season to join the Top 14 club, where things haven’t quite panned out for him despite impressing with a pair of braces in the Investec Champions Cup, crossing twice against Connacht and Bristol Bears.

He is set to add some X-factor to the Munster backline and inject some pace following the retirements of Keith Earls and Simon Zebo.

READ MORE: ‘It’s been some craic’ – Munster and Ireland favourite Simon Zebo calls time on illustrious career