The Springbok Sevens team provides the perfect environment for developing players and people, and Stedman Gans feels that being surrounded by some of the leading players in the world, assisted with his growth as a Blitzbok in the last year.
The 21-year-old Gans made his debut in the highly successful 2016/17 season and this year continued to grow in the team packed with celebrated and experienced players.
Last Sunday, when Gans had to make the step up after injuries to the experienced Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez, the former Waterkloof High School headboy delivered telling performances against New Zealand, England and Fiji at Twickenham in London.
Now in France, where the Blitzboks are preparing for the HSBC Paris Sevens, the last in the 10-tournament HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Gans is keen to end the season on a high with the team.
“You need to use the opportunities that come your way,” Gans said.
“I needed to learn to have some patience and more importantly, to be ready when called upon. That is how you grow as a player and a person.
“Every time I get an opportunity, I feel that my confidence is there. It feels like I have more time on the ball and more time to make decisions, which is great. I have grown as a player and continue to do so. This weekend I want to become an even better player and Blitzbok.”
The injuries to Afrika and Du Preez not only thrusted the playmaking responsibilities on Gans last weekend, it also opened the door for the even younger Mfundo Ndhlovu to show his worth. The winger joined the squad as 13th player on Tuesday and he said he is excited about a potential appearance in Paris.
“I played in Hong Kong for the first time and it was an amazing experience,” he said
“It is unfortunate that I had to come here due to injuries to Cecil and Branco, but that is the way it goes. I also realise that I will only get an opportunity if there is another injury, but that is fine. Until then, I will soak up the presence of being in the same team with players such as Seabelo Senatla. And when the chance comes, I will play my heart out.”
The Blitzboks play Canada, Russia and Scotland in Pool B on Saturday.