Francois Hougaard says he knows it’s going to take plenty of work for him to prove his value on the World Rugby Sevens Series circuit this season, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls utility back, who has played 35 Tests for the Springboks, has notably opted to sign a contract with the Blitzboks that will run from 1 November until after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
‘It has always been a dream of mine to play sevens, and when I got the offer, I never hesitated,’ he told SARugbymag.co.za in Cape Town. ‘When I got the contract, I was like a little boy I was so excited. As a rugby player, you can tend to do the same thing every year. I’ve been at the Bulls for eight years now, and I think that change is a good thing. Sevens is obviously a totally different game, but I’ve always been a massive fan of it.’
The 2015-16 Sevens Series kicks off in Dubai on 4 December, and it will be interesting to see how Blitzboks coach Neil Powell opts to integrate the various 15s players who were announced in an extended squad on Wednesday.
‘The one thing is that I don’t expect to just walk into the squad, I know how hard some of the other sevens regulars have worked to be where they are, so I have to prove myself and show why I deserve to be there,' Hougaard commented. 'It will be a big difference, but I feel like I can adapt quite quickly. Conditioning and getting onto the same page with regard to structures will be very important. So I’ll have to put the work in and ensure I get to know the system well enough.’
Hougaard said the ultimate goal would obviously be to earn inclusion in the Olympic squad, but reiterated that it was going to be a considerable learning curve before then.
‘Getting to Rio is a big motivator, but for me, I just want to earn my place in the team first and take it tournament by tournament. This is all about putting the necessary building blocks in place. I’m looking forward to taking my mind and body to a place it’s never been before, and seeing what I can do. I think my short bursts of speed can be of benefit to the team, and I'm looking forward to having a bit more space out on the field, but I really just want to make the most of this experience and bring whatever I can to the team.’
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images