Cape Town - The 40-hour trip to Las Vegas has not impacted on the
Blitzboks’ performances at the Las Vegas Sevens in the past, and there is
no reason why it should be different this time around, believes Springbok
Sevens captain, Philip Snyman.
Recent displays by the Blitzboks at the event - hosted at
the Sam Boyd Stadium - indicates that the team has done well, and they will
look to make their presence felt once again in what marks the fifth tournament
of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
“Las Vegas has been good to us in the past, and we have
developed a liking for the Sam Boyd Stadium,” Snyman said of the venue where
the team has won four times in the last eight years.
“We have a couple of new faces in the team, so we need to
adapt to that. They bring different strengths to the system, and we need to tap
Four players are in Nevada for the first time, namely Impi
Visser, Mfundo Ndhlovu, JC Pretorius and Sako Makata, and they are all looking
forward to the event.
The trip is the longest of the ten stops for the
Stellenbosch-based side on the World Rugby Sevens Series, and for the only
debutant on tour, Makata, it is one filled with anticipation.
The 20-year-old had his first training session with the team
upon arrival, and was handed his Blitzboks training jersey in a traditional
hand-over ceremony for newcomers.
Four-time Las Vegas Sevens winner, Branco du Preez, did the
hand-over, while wishing the newcomer well.
For Makata, waiting for this opportunity has been well worth
it, he said with a smile.
“I have worked hard to get to this point,” Makata said.
“Playing in the SA Rugby Academy team in tournaments in Dubai and South America
made me realise that I want this very badly. Now I am here and I need to make
the best of this wonderful opportunity.”
The former Sterling High School pupil is keen to get going
come Saturday, when the Blitzboks take on Japan, Chile and England in their
“I have a role in the team and I know what is expected of
me,” Makata said. “The reward for me will be to justify the confidence the
coach has shown in me by contributing to the team effort.”
Ndhlovu was equally pleased to be on the trip.
The winger, who was named the Sharks under-21 Player
of the Year last season, was injured prior to the team’s departure to Hamilton
and Sydney, but with his hamstring issues now over, he gets another opportunity
to add to the caps he picked up in Hong Kong and Paris in 2018.
Ndhlovu feels that the development of his game in the SA
Rugby Sevens Academy was vital in his step-up into the big league.
“The experience is invaluable as it gives you a good taste
of what Sevens is about,” Ndhlovu said. “The attention to detail is also
important because it teaches one a lot of small aspects that are essential to
be successful as a Blitzbok. I am pretty pleased to have made it on this trip,
and I can't wait to go out and play.
“My aim is to contribute and to make sure the guys can count
on me when they need me.”