Blitzboks newcomer Francois Hougaard says his first experiences of sevens rugby have been both challenging and rewarding, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Hougaard made his Blitzboks debut during last weekend’s Dubai Sevens, and while it understandably took some time for him to settle into his stride, he ended the tournament by scoring the match-winning try in the Plate final.
The former Bok and Bulls player said he was enjoying the the challenge of adjusting to a new form of the game.
‘The conditioning side has been intense, the big word has been urgency, whether that be on defence or attack,’ he told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘Getting into position early is crucial, and the physical side of things has also been tough. There’s been a lot of analysis and hard work I’ve needed to put in to understand all the moves, structures, defensive and attacking principles of the game. Getting to know the system and fitness requirements has been very important too, but it’s all been a lot of fun.’
Hougaard is expected to play a key role in this weekend’s Cape Town Sevens, and he said his experience in Dubai would hopefully stand him in good stead.
‘I didn’t go into the Dubai tournament with expectations around how much I would play. The games go by so quickly, and it all happens in the blink of an eye, so it was just great to be a part of the team. Playing a full game against Russia was really tiring because it’s non-stop [action], but it’s been a great experience, and I just want to contribute any way I can.’
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said Hougaard would continue to play as a versatile back in the role of sweeper and back-up wing.
‘He’s obviously a player who is experienced in 15s, but he brings a nice vibe and energy to the squad. He’s a go-getter and a fighter, who will fight for every centimetre out there. He has good feet and good skill, but he probably needs a bit more experience and game time, which is obviously important for all the new players.’
The Blitzboks will open their Cape Town campaign with a clash against Zimbabwe on Saturday, followed by fixtures against Kenya and England.
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