Phone calls from coaches at crazy hours could easily spell trouble for players, and when SA Rugby Sevens Academy Manager Marius Schoeman rang at 06h30 on Monday morning, Kurt-Lee Arendse had no idea how his life was going to change.
Schoeman himself just got off the phone with Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell, who requested Arendse and Zain Davids to join the Blitzboks in Canada, where round six of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will take place in Vancouver this weekend, as injury replacements for Mfundo Ndhlovu and Ryan Oosthuizen.
For the 22-year-old University of Western Cape student, it was an unexpected call, but one he was born ready to take. Just before departure to Canada on Tuesday, Arendse relived that “goose bumps” moment.
“It was still early in the morning, I was still in my room at SAS (Stellenbosch Academy of Sport) and I saw Coach Marius calling,” Arendse recalled.
“When I answered, he told me to start packing my bags, as I am going to join the Blitzboks in Canada. I could not believe it – it’s the call you were training for since you were little. I got goose bumps all over my body,” Arendse added with a huge smile.
The Paarl-raised youngster only joined the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in December last year. He played in tournaments in Dubai and South America (in January) and in fact, still played in the opening round of the FNB Varsity Cup last month, scoring a try for FNB UWC against FNB Ikeys.
“I think the trips to Dubai and South America did wonders for me, as I gained valuable experience playing sevens,” said Arendse.
“It was always a dream of mine to play for the Blitzboks, so sevens was part of what I wanted to do. When the call came, I was so happy and relieved, it was what I worked towards for a while now.”
Powell will name his starting squad on Friday and chances are that Arendse could be the official reserve, but as luck goes with the Blitzboks at the moment, there is a good chance of injury to one of the squad halfway through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Schoeman, who saw the potential in the side-stepping student last year when he excelled for FNB UWC at Varsity Cup Sevens, endorsed the inclusion of Arendse.
“He has so much talent and will be better for the experience and if he gets the opportunity in Vancouver, he will step up,” Schoeman predicted.
“When I called him, he was a bit overwhelmed and I could hear how excited he was. And nervous, as Zain had to come and help him pack his bag.”
The Springbok Sevens team face Chile, Wales and USA in Pool A of the HSBC Canada Sevens on Saturday.