It’s “special” for Kwagga Smith to be a part of the Springbok Sevens team again. And that word - special - is one that can easily describe the season that this Blitzbok has had.
From fifteens to Sevens - there have been quite a few special moments for the 24-year-old this year. And it continued this past weekend.
When the Springbok Sevens team started their title defence in Dubai at the weekend, Smith got his 2017-18 World Sevens Series campaign off to the best possible start. Not only did he produce massive performances throughout the weekend, but he also maintained that run to secure the man-of-the-match award in the final after he and his mates thumped the Kiwis to win back-to-back titles in the Series-opening Dubai leg.
That’s not all, though.
Smith scored a try in the Dubai final as well. And, unsurprisingly, visiting the New Zealanders’ in-goal area to touch down after charging down a kick was quite something for him. Why? Because it was a try in a tournament final against New Zealand. That’s why.
And who knows. Maybe, just maybe, the fact that Smith should have been high on confidence following his productions in the 15-man game this year gave him that extra boost to show just how hot the form he is in right now.
In Super Rugby, the loose forward served his opposition unpalatable dishes of linebreak upon linebreak, his displays of superb defence kept rolling in, and turnovers were one of his best rugby friends (winning them, that is).
He was crucial in the Lions road to the final against the Crusaders, and when he was named in the Barbarians side to face the All Blacks, he packaged his 2017 fifteens performances neatly into a box and wrapped it up with a man-of-the-match outing against the world champions. It might not have led them to secure a win, but it made sure that his name echoed even further in South African rugby circles.
The Blitzboks may have been crowned the kings of the desert again at the weekend, and Smith would surely have been a favourite to wear the crown for his team, but he doesn’t plan on floating on that cloud for too long as they prepare for the Cape Town event.
“It was great to score in the final. I always enjoy playing against New Zealand, that’s when you can measure yourself and improve - against world-class players. So I can take confidence from that (beating them and scoring a try), but I also know that I’m going to have to put in the hard work this week, just to take confidence from training into this weekend,” Smith said.
“I just told myself to do the basics right. The team performed really well, and if that’s the case, it’s easy for anybody to stand out. We just have to start from scratch this week. Cape Town is a lekker tournament for everyone.
“Everybody wants to perform and everybody wants to take the Cup in Cape Town. It won’t be easy. We’re in a physical pool and we just have to lay the foundation and build on that for the other games.”
Smith described being back with the Blitzboks following his fifteens work as “special” when the team arrived at Cape Town International Airport on Sunday evening. And the spirit in the team was also something that stood out for him.
“We’re a very experienced team that’s played together a lot, but just to be together again - after a lot of us were out and couldn’t play together - was a great positive, just to be able to gel again," Smith, pictured, said. “The spirit in the team was phenomenal in Dubai, and the week building up to the week was also great, it went so quickly. Everyone gelled and we did well. It was very special for me to be a part of that again.”
So, I guess the only thing that could have made Smith’s year in the 15-man code even better would have been a Springbok call-up, right? Perhaps. But that’s not the focus right now, his time with the Blitzboks is. That doesn’t, however, mean that the goal of wearing the Bok blazer has faded.
“I’ve set goals for myself, but to me it’s just about working hard and giving myself the best chance to be the best I can be. When (Bok) selectors pick the team I want to know that I did everything I could to give myself the best chance,” Smith said.
And right now, it seems like Smith is doing everything he can to give himself the best chance to be the best he can be on the Sevens circuit. And that’s a good-enough start.