Having capped an incredible rise by helping the Blitzboks win the Dubai Sevens in his debut tournament, Ricardo Duarttee says there are more tricks to come from him in Cape Town this weekend. DYLAN JACK reports.
Duarttee scored four tries – including a brace versus Samoa – and kicked five conversions to help South Africa win a fourth title in the desert on the spin, and a 10th overall.
His performances not only earned him the nickname ‘Tricky Ricky’ from Australian commentator Sean Maloney, but also a place in the Dubai Sevens Dream Team, alongside teammates Shakes Soyizwapi and Branco du Preez.
“To sum it up, it was almost perfect. I couldn’t ask for a better start to my sevens journey,” Duarttee told the media after a Blitzboks training session in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“Now it’s keeping my feet on the ground, refocusing and getting ready for this weekend.”
Duarttee’s self-belief is evident by the fact that he went all in on his rugby career at the beginning of the year, selling his car to enroll in the Stellenbosch Academy of Sports.
Ahead of his first Blitzboks’ tournament on home soil, he recalls a story of when the Sevens Series was last in Cape Town and he was ultimately convinced to become a professional player.
“It’s actually an amazing story. Three years ago, in the last Cape Town Sevens in 2019, coach Jerome Paarwater sent me to train with the Kenyans. They needed extra numbers, so I got an opportunity to train with a national sevens team.
“It was amazing, their vibe and culture. I told myself at the time that this is where I want to be. I definitely wanted to play on the Sevens Series circuit one day.
“I always believed that it would happen. I always told myself, I am going to be a Springbok. I believe in manifesting, in the power of belief. I kept working. People always asked me why I worked so hard. It’s because I knew where I wanted to go.”
Three years after bulking up the numbers for Kenya, Duarttee is set to run out in front of his friends and family for the first time at Cape Town Stadium.
“It’s just the beginning for me. I just needed a chance to show my talent. I have signed for two years with the Springbok Sevens,” he said.
“I am very excited. To represent my country and play in front of friends and family at the stadium, it’s something that I never expected in my entire life. So I am just really excited.”
On his alluring nickname, Duarttee says he hopes he can live up to it this weekend.
“Nobody has ever given me that nickname. They’ve called me some other things, but not Tricky Ricky,” he said with a chuckle. “Hopefully I can pull a few more tricks out of the sack.”
The Cape Town Sevens gets underway on Friday. The Blitzboks start their campaign against Canada at 8pm on Friday before facing Fiji at 11.19am and then France at 5pm on Saturday.
Photo: Christopher Pike/Getty Images