Impi Visser is looking forward to getting out on the field after being named in the Blitzboks squad for the Hamilton Sevens this weekend.
The 24-year-old probably knows more about the hills and slopes of life in the physical and mental sense than most of the foes he will face this weekend, and Visser is determined to use that inner strength to his own and the Blitzboks’ advantage.
After relocating to Stellenbosch from Pretoria and completing his degree in engineering there, Visser also broke into the Blitzboks starting lineup. He did so well that he played in all 10 tournaments of the 2018-19 World Series, scoring 13 tries in 55 matches.
On a personal level, earning his degree and then notching another one his bucket list by scaling Kilimanjaro, topped a year full of highlights as he ended 2019.
However, Visser missed out when the team was named for the 2019-20 World Series opener in Dubai last month, and travelled to the desert city as a member of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy.
The Academy side, which also featured the likes of Branco du Preez, Cecil Afrika, Werner Kok and Angelo Davids – all of whom are also part of the Hamilton squad – won the International Invitational tournament and eased the worries for Visser.
‘We all know that 2020 will be a tough year in that regard as coach Neil Powell wanted to give the wider group an opportunity to stake a claim for the final squad that will go to the Olympics.
‘Not to be part of the first squad for Dubai was disappointing, but only mentally. Physically, I was still on the field with the likes of Branco, Cecil, Werner and Angelo, which demanded that you give your best.
‘You do feel bad when you are not in the team, but there is a bigger picture and it is not the end of the world.
‘Emotionally one gets down a bit and there are some thoughts going through your head. You question your abilities, but for me that only lasted for a short while. It is all about how you use the opportunity that you are given, and I am keen to grab mine this weekend.’
Visser was the official reserve for the Cape Town Sevens and got a call-up on the final day when Kurt-Lee Arendse picked up an injury. He played in the final, where New Zealand edged the Blitzboks 7-5. His bounce-back was completed when he was named in the squad to travel to New Zealand.
Back on the summit again, Visser can look down with a clear perspective on his role and responsibilities in Hamilton.
‘In this squad, it is never about yourself – you need to put the team first and contribute, and that will be my goal, just to make sure my personal performance is one I am proud of and is beneficial to the team effort.’
The Blitzboks begin their tournament on Saturday against Japan at 2:15am (SA time), before facing England at 7:30am and finishing the pool stage against Kenya at 1:13am on Sunday. Neil Powell’s side is currently tied with New Zealand at the top of the Sevens Series standings.
Photo: David van der Sandt