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SA can be sure Kok will sizzle


The work-rate of Werner Kok is something special, although he offers much, much more than that

Werner Kok will be doing what he loves best this weekend in Cape Town - hell work hard at the breakdown, turn on his blistering pace, smash the opposition on defence and carry the game to the opponents. Picture: BackpagePix

The work-rate of Blitzbok speedster
Werner Kok is something special, although he offers much, much more than that

There’s “rugby is a game of two halves”, “it’s not about me, it’s about the team”, “you have to win the set-piece battle first”, “you can’t just run the ball from everywhere” (a couple of words that make me cringe more than never-ending scrum resets).

And, if sarcasm could be vividly portrayed in text, I’d say that my favourite overused rugby phrase is “playing in the right areas of the field”.

And so we can go on and on.

Something that has also become somewhat of a cliché, or rather a frequently-expressed notion, is coaches’ appreciation for the work-rate that Sevens players who dabble in fifteens bring to the expanded game.

If you ask any fifteens coach what stands out about a Sevens player, you will be right almost every time if your guess was that he’d say “work-rate” or “work-ethic” (and conditioning, not sure which one wins here). And, however many times it’s been said – you really can’t underestimate the contribution that these men make in the 80-minute game.

So I’d say that it’s an acceptable thing to highlight, however many times that may be.

And, just like many other Sevens okes, the work-rate of Werner Kok is something special, although he offers much, much more than that.

His performances are just one of the many Sevens treats we can expect to see at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday and Sunday, when the Blitzboks will aim to make it two celebrations in a row after lifting the Cup in Dubai at the weekend.

The 24-year-old has showed what he brings to the game of rugby every time he’s got to wear the Western Province jersey during this year’s Currie Cup.

Yeah, that eagerness to get stuck in almost everywhere might have, at times, caused a bit of concern in terms of his positional play, but it’s been more good than bad.

After all, he did play inside centre for the Pumas at Under-18 level before making the move to Stellenbosch, and he kept an eye on the 15-man game by playing for Province’s Under-19 side.

But this weekend – when the Blitzboks look to go for gold at Cape Town Stadium after missing out in the final last year – it will be all about his Sevens arsenal when the 2015 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year will again be a key man to watch.

Since making his international Sevens debut at the London Sevens in 2013, Kok was part of the team that won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

He was instrumental in the Blitzboks’ run in the 2014/15 season – which helped them finish second on the standings and gain automatic qualification to the Rio Olympics.

And just as he was a vital cog in the Springbok Sevens side in 2014, he was even bigger in 2015.

And, since then, not much has changed. His breakdown work, blistering pace, knack for smashing the opposition on defence (an activity he enjoys quite a bit) and strong carrying have become well-known gems, and it’s been a crucial part of the Springbok Sevens team’s many success stories.

And I don’t see that changing in the Mother City.

As always, Werner Kok will be one to watch this weekend, and that is a cliché worth repeating.