Stedman Gans is looking forward to be back on the field in a Blitzbok jersey as he prepares to lead the side in Hamilton this weekend. DYLAN JACK reports.
With regular captain Siviwe Soyizwapi out of the next two tournaments in New Zealand and Australia due to injury, Gans will take over the leadership of the team.
It will not be the 22-year-old’s first experience wearing the captain’s armband, having previously lead the SA Sevens Academy team during their successful tournament in Dubai last December.
However, Gans told SARugbymag.co.za that he is still going through his emotions before this weekend’s tournament.
‘It is a massive honour and a privilege,’ Gans said. ‘I am a little bit nervous but also excited. So there are a lot of mixed feelings at the moment.
‘It was very good,’ Gans says on his experience in Dubai. ‘I enjoyed it very much. I think that was a good stepping stone into growing into this role now.
‘I think I have learned that when I focus on the team and the team environment, I tend to be better as an individual. That way I don’t put too much pressure on myself because I am thinking about guys around me.’
It will be Gans’ first run-out in a Blitzbok jersey since he last played in London in 2018, having missed most of the 2019 season through injury.
‘I am really looking forward to getting out on the field and playing,’ Gans says. ‘Any rugby player looks forward to just getting on the field. It was one of the most frustrating things you can go through. But now, starting 2020 makes me excited and I hope this will be a good year.
‘The competition within the system at the moment is really good. Everyone wants to be in that squad and it is actually taking the performance of the guys up a level.
‘The team will grow as the season goes on. We have had two tournaments where we have been successful in implementing our processes. Going into these next two tournaments, we want to add something more and be even better. We want to keep doing that until we reach the Olympics.’
The Blitzboks begin their tournament on Saturday against Japan at 2:15am (SA time), before facing England at 7:30am and finshing the pool stage against Kenya at 1:13am on Sunday. Neil Powell’s side are currently tied with New Zealand at the top of the Sevens Series standings.
Photo: EPA/Will Oliver