There are few venues more intimidating than Hong Kong to make your HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series debut, but Springbok Sevens player Ryan Oosthuizen had some calming advice for the five new Blitzboks that will run out for the team this weekend.
Friday’s start to the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens – the seventh of ten tournaments in the World Series – will see a bunch of new faces in the Blitzboks jersey, but Oosthuizen, who was a member of the 2016/17 World Series winning team, was at ease with that.
“We back them just as much as the coach backed them by selecting them,” Oosthuizen said after the team concluded a tough defence session on Wednesday. “Hong Kong is a great tournament to play in, but we do not need to be overwhelmed by that. We have solid structures in place and a process that delivers results. So if the young guys stick to that, they will be fine.
“We will play with a smile on our faces because this is a massive opportunity for all of us to play for our country and to make our supporters proud.”
Oosthuizen added: “The more senior guys will give advice and guidance as that is part of the team’s culture. Philip Snyman and Chris Dry helped me along when I started, so I will do the same, but we are all in this together. If we stick together as a team, it will be much easier for us as a group.”
One of the new faces in the squad is Standerton-raised Mfundo Ndhlovu, who will be playing on the wing, a position Seabelo Senatla made his own in the past.
“It is a massive honour to be wearing Seabelo’s jersey, but it is also a big responsibility,” said Ndhlovu. “I take that on knowing that my team-mates will back me, just as I back them to do the right thing.”
Ndhlovu, who won gold with South Africa’s Under-18 team at the Youth Commonwealth Games in 2015, is excited about the opportunity to represent his country at senior international level in Sevens – a code he loves to play.
“This is going to be huge for all of us,” he said. “I can’t wait, and I know the rest of the squad feels the same.”