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‘Tricky’ Ricky Duarttee says self-belief is key for Blitzboks ahead of Perth Sevens

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The South Africans are motivated to bounce back from a disappointing outing in Cape Town last month, and sunny Perth will also bring a fresh outlook to the World Sevens Series.

After being named as the Rookie of the Year for the 2023 season, Ricardo Duarttee missed out in Dubai and Cape Town, but is back in the Blitzboks squad in Perth. Picture: Shaun Roy, BackpagePix

The Blitzboks are banking on a good dose of fresh blood to put a spring in their step in Perth this weekend in the form of two uncapped players and three returnees from injury.

The South Africans are motivated to bounce back from a disappointing outing in Cape Town last month, and sunny Perth will also bring a fresh outlook to the World Sevens Series.

Even if the tournament was played on the South Pole, Ricardo Duarttee hopes to be a ray of sunshine for his team.

After being named as World Rugby’s Rookie of the Year for the 2023 season, ‘Tricky Ricky’ missed out in Dubai and Cape Town as the coaching staff decided to go with a fit-again Selvyn Davids and Ronald Brown in the playmaker/sweeper role.

But he was named in the squad to travel to the third tournament of the season.

“It is massive to be back,” said Duarttee. “It was not nice missing out as I wanted to be part of another full season, but I understand why the coaches opted for a different combination.

“You have to handle disappointments as it’s all part of the bigger meaning of life.

“For me, it was a matter of self-belief … I still believed that I could contribute to the team, and worked hard to prove that.

“This weekend will not be about me, though, it will be about the team and how we can perform here in Perth.”

Duarttee added that despite the accolade from last season, he is still learning and growing as a sevens player, and he has tuned into his responsibilities for the weekend.

“There are some really good players in this set-up, and I was lucky to be able to learn from them when I arrived here,” he said.

“That has not changed as I try and improve every day. Communication is important; everybody must know what the others are planning or expecting.

“Off the field, I am also hoping to be putting the guys in a good mood, and wanting to go out there and enjoy the moment.”

For James Murphy, the road back into the squad was slightly different, with illness and injury resulting in the forward missing out on months of team selection, but his return came at a good time for the two-time World Series winner.

“It is great to be back after the misfortunes I had with my health,” said Murphy, adding that missing out on the first two tournaments didn’t mean that he had no role to play over the last two months.

“We all contribute to making the system better. When they won in Dubai, I was as happy as I was unhappy with what transpired in Cape Town.

“The players work together to achieve the best result, but when things go south, like in Cape Town, we all accept responsibility and put in the extra effort to make sure we bounce back.

“There are some younger players this time around, so I do feel like a senior player, and I need to deliver accordingly.”

Mike Greenaway

IOL Sport

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