Cape Town - Springbok Sevens captain KYLE BROWN, who will mark his return from injury, talks about the challenges that lie ahead in Las Vegas and the value 15-man players have added to the set-up.
Sport24 asked: Address the composition of your squad for this tour and the returning players.
Kyle Brown: We decided to travel with 13 players for this trip and therefore made seven changes to the squad that toured New Zealand and Australia. After the Australasian leg, Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe returned to the Stormers for the Super Rugby campaign, while Francois Hougaard has joined Worcester Warriors for an eight-week stint. Needless to say, I believe the inclusion of the aforementioned players proved a great success when judged according to our goal of growing the depth of the pre-Olympic squad. All three players contributed incredibly well both on and off the field. Meanwhile, it’s always great to witness the return of the electric pairing of Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez. It seems like ages since I’ve been on the playing field with ‘Brancs’ and I’m really excited to see him get into it again. Vegas has been a great place to compete over the last few years, but none of that counts when it all begins. We will be aiming to get into our rhythm in no time at all.
Sport24 asked: A few new players have entered the fray. How has team unity been forged?
Kyle Brown: Our set-up is on one level, and the new players join below that level because it’s either their first time in the team fold or they haven’t been here in a few years. I feel it’s the responsibility not only of the individual to educate himself and work as hard as he can, but it’s the duty of the set-up as a whole to go down and pick up the players so we that can move forward as one as quickly as possible. As we spend so much time together on the road and in each other’s faces representing the Blitzboks on the World Sevens circuit, the ability to work effectively in a group setting is paramount.
Sport24 asked: What are the living arrangements like on tour and what keeps you entertained?
Kyle Brown: We are always paired together in rooms and in that way we have created such a cool team vibe. My regular roommate on tour is Cecil and we can literally have the Bad Boys I and II movies, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, running in the background for the duration of the tour. Cecil is able to repeat all of the lines from the films word for word, and it’s funny every single time. Smith is my favourite actor. I dig his work and, for my money, anything he touches is gold.
Sport24 asked: You debuted for the Blitzboks in 2008. How do you stay motivated each season?
Kyle Brown: My driving force as a member of this team is to be part of something special. For me, it’s about looking back years from now and saying, “I was part of that set-up, we won that medal or we narrowly missed out in that tournament, but what a fight it was.” Because we go through so much together as a group, we have truly become a band of brothers. I believe that the person and player I have developed into today is because of all the positive, supportive people surrounding me.
Sport24 asked: What separates winners from losers? And what has led to your longevity?
Kyle Brown: A positive attitude through successes and defeats. Success can completely inflate a player’s ego and those that develop big heads become one-season wonders. They venture off the path and forget the reason why they’re playing the oval game. The reason I’ve remain grounded is because I wasn’t a superstar at schoolboy level and I didn’t even play Craven Week. I didn’t attain the highest accolades when I was a youngster and I’ve worked my tail off to be where I am today.
Sport24 asked: Was there a particular player you modelled your game on or admired from afar?
Kyle Brown: Yes. Australian flanker George Smith is a player I’ve always admired. A big reason for that is based on the fact that we are almost the same height. For me, measuring up at dead-on six foot and trying to play as an openside flanker in South Africa was difficult. However, Smith proved that you don’t have to be well over six foot in order to be an effective flanker in the modern game. And he is still playing great rugby at Wasps at the age of 35. He is physical when he needs to be, is smart on the ball and is a pretty effective playmaker and link-man between the forwards and backs.
Sport24 asked: Away from the four white lines you walked down the aisle. How’s married life? Kyle Brown: Married life is deep. Tarryn and I met at the end of 2005 and starting dating in 2006. When you take that next step to marriage it’s really special. We have settled down a few kilometres outside of Stellenbosch and are starting to build our lives here and getting into our daily routines.