Johannesburg - The Springbok Sevens side have been buoyed by the fact that two of their own have been shortlisted for the IRB Sevens Player of the year.
According to the supersport.com website, Cornal Hendricks, who ended second on the season try-scoring list, and injured captain Frankie Horne, who played a record-breaking 50th consecutive IRB Sevens tournament this year, both were named on an eight player shortlist by the IRB for the prestigious award.
And for the Blitzbokke it was the perfect send off as they named their team to travel to Moscow for the Rugby World Cup next weekend.
Hendricks was full of smiles when he heard the news, telling supersport.com that he was overwhelmed when he was told.
“It is a great privilege. To see my name there is a great honour. We worked hard the whole week and we had a tough year. I was second on the IRB Sevens try scoring list, and it was lekker for me,” the big Boland player explained.
While Kenya’s Willie Ambaka and New Zealand’s Gilles Kaka are the early favourites, top try scorer Dan Norton of England and Fijian magician Joji Rawamate are also in with a good shout for the title. Afa Aiono from Samoa and New Zealand veteran Tim Mikkelson round out the nominees.
Hendricks said that with the additions of experience and speed to the squad, the team had been lifted and was looking forward to giving a good account of themselves in Moscow.
“With Seabelo and Ryno the team looks strong. We’re looking forward to playing in Moscow, not only for ourselves or the country, but for the people who support us in every tournament. It is a privilege to play for your country,” Hendricks smiled.
The IRB has asked members of the public to vote at facebook.com/irbsevens and facebook.com/irbwomenson who they think should win the two awards.
At the end of the pool rounds of Rugby World Cup Sevens the lists will be further shortened, taking into account the public poll, the initial nomination voting process and World Cup form, with the two winners announced in Moscow at the conclusion of Rugby World Cup Sevens on Sunday June 30.
IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said: "Rugby is a sport of character and Sevens showcases the character-building values of integrity, passion, discipline in the form of strong teamwork and the remarkable achievements of our exceptionally gifted men’s and women’s athletes.
"These 13 nominees epitomise the skill, speed, power and excitement that has made our Olympic sport of Sevens a hit around the world and their recognition is a credit to their teams and their nations.
"My congratulations go to the nominees and every player who has contributed to a stellar year of Rugby Sevens and I look forward to a compelling finale as Rugby Sevens breaks new frontiers in Moscow and our eventual award winners are crowned."
In the women's category the five nominees are: Kelly Brazier (New Zealand), Jennifer Kish (Canada), Kayla McAlister (New Zealand), Emily Scarratt (England) and Kelly van Harskamp (Netherlands).