Werner Kok is looking forward to playing for the Sevens Academy as he aims to reset after a loan spell with Top 14 side Toulouse.
Kok missed a large chunk of the Springbok Sevens’ pre-season after being allowed by Blitzboks coach Neil Powell to join French powerhouse club Toulouse on a short-term loan.
Consequently, he is restarting his sevens career in the Academy side as they play for the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens International Invitational Trophy.
The 26-year-old has fond memories of when he first arrived at the Academy many years ago.
‘Yes, I remember coming here as a youngster. Cheslin Kolbe and Kwagga Smith were with me at that time, and I still had short hair.
‘This is a very strong Academy side, which will help me as the standard of rugby will be high,’ Kok says. ‘In fact, with the depth of the overall squad this year, it is going to be very competitive. Everybody wants to be in that final squad that will go to the Olympics next year and will push very hard for a spot. I am no different.’
Kok adds that he has no issues playing away from the TV cameras and on the outer fields in Dubai this time around.
‘I would love to be in contention to play in Cape Town next weekend and I am quite comfortable playing in the Academy side this week to test my legs.’
After making his international sevens debut, Kok’s exploits took him to 10 iconic cities in 10 tournaments around the world a couple of times, but the visit to Toulouse was another eye-opener.
‘The good thing for me was to experience a different culture and I am very happy that I took that detour – I enjoyed my time there and I feel that it improved me as a player as well. My immediate focus is to get back on the horse here in Dubai and enjoy playing with the guys around me. It was great coming back to the family again.’
The Academy will face the Royal Jesters, an invitational side from England, on Thursday. Matches against French Military and Russia will follow on Friday.