JOHANNESBURG - How Ruhan Nel must be counting his blessings for his decision to move to the Cape and join the BlitzBoks on a permanent basis.
In the last year he has not only become a World Rugby Sevens Series champion, but a SuperSport Rugby Challenge winner and most recently also a Currie Cup champion.
It’s been a dream last 12 months for the former Lions and Griquas star and former Brandwag High School pupil in Benoni.
And, as the 2017/18 Sevens series nears a start this weekend, the 26-year-old is hoping for more silverware in the coming months.
“The 15s certainly helped me improve my contact skills and physicality, while I found it easier to identify space and get my defensive alignment correct, thanks to my Sevens experience, so the benefit was both ways,” said the Western Province wing-cum-centre ahead of the first tournament in the new Sevens series in Dubai this weekend.
“I certainly feel I had the best of both worlds.”
Nel performed well last season, cementing his place in the team and playing in all 10 tournaments, and he is looking ahead to having another big impact in the forthcoming series.
“This season will bring new challenges but it is always nice going back to Sevens. It’s going to be a big year with the Commonwealth Games coming up and the World Cup Sevens also in sight, so it’s easy to get motivated.”
Another player in the current Sevens set-up who shone for a 15s team in the Currie Cup is loose-forward Tim Agaba, who enjoyed a very successful late season showing for the Bulls.
Injuries, though, blighted his contribution in the early stages then, and in the initial stages of the Sevens campaign, but he is starting this season in good health.
“Unfortunately I was injured early in the Sevens campaign so I am happy to be involved now at the start of this campaign,” said Agaba.
“The skills I picked up in Sevens certainly helped me in the 15s game in the Currie Cup and I’m looking forward to the season ahead.”
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Agaba is in line to play his 50th match for the BlitzBoks against Uganda, his country of birth, later this week, but he isn’t thinking about personal achievements in Dubai this week.
“It is great to be back with the guys and hopefully we can do well again,” he said, referring to last season’s series triumph by the BlitzBoks.
“We will keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard. If we stick to what we know and keep our standards up everything else will take care of itself.”
The BlitzBoks kick off their Dubai campaign with a match against Uganda on Friday (8.52am) and follow that up with further group matches against Kenya (12.36pm) and Canada (5.53pm).