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SA youngsters target Blitzboks resurgence

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“Nothing has changed, although I am yet to experience that winning feeling. It can change this weekend, who knows?"

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The World Rugby Sevens Series consists of 10 tournaments played in 10 iconic cities around the world and for any 20-year-old to be part of this, the experience is worthwhile.

Just ask Muller du Plessis and Sako Makata, the two youngest members of the Springbok Sevens squad ahead of the Vancouver Sevens this weekend.

It could also be pretty rewarding, especially if you were part of the Blitzboks squad where visits to Dubai, Cape Town, Sydney, Las Vegas, London and Paris also meant victory laps at the end of those tournaments in recent years.

It’s not quite the same in the 2018/19 series, where neither Du Plessis nor Makata could lead the winning song in any of the four languages (Afrikaans, English, Sotho and Xhosa) they are comfortable with.

Du Plessis, who graduated into the Blitzboks in Las Vegas in 2018, also played in Vancouver, Hong Kong and Singapore before being called into the Junior Springboks team for a different level of national duty, which meant he missed the tournament win in Paris, where the Blitzboks clinched the World Series for a second time.

And Du Plessis is keen to get to the top of the podium with the Springbok Sevens team.

“There are many reasons why I wanted to play for the Blitzboks from a young age, one of which is the winning mentality and winning culture,” said Du Plessis, who will play in his eighth tournament for the team this weekend.

“Nothing has changed, although I am yet to experience that winning feeling. It can change this weekend, who knows?

“It was frustrating to pick up an injury in Cape Town at the end of last year and miss the next two tournaments, but things happen for a reason,” said Du Plessis.

“I worked hard during rehab and I am now looking forward to help contribute to the Blitzboks’ cause again. I want to thank the medical team of the Blitzboks, who helped me back to fitness and by contributing in a big way this weekend, will be a way of thanking them for an often thankless task.”

Makata, who debuted in Las Vegas last weekend to become the 176th Springbok Sevens player to play in the World Series, said although the final placing did not match their expectations, the experience gained did.

“I am ready for more – the Academy tours helped a lot, but this is the real thing,” he said.

“Everything is just a little bit faster and the margin of error is so much smaller. Especially the attack is much faster. One needs to adapt quickly and although the learning curve was steep, it was great and I am very keen to give it another go.

“We made some errors in Las Vegas that cost us, but once the error rate comes down, the success rate will go up.”