South Africa's Werner Kok, left, has his jersey pulled by Fiji's Waisea Nacuqu during the Los Angeles Sevens rugby tournament final on Sunday. Photo: AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu
South Africa's Werner Kok, left, has his jersey pulled by Fiji's Waisea Nacuqu during the Los Angeles Sevens rugby tournament final on Sunday. Photo: AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Kok lauds depth of the Blitzboks system

By Michael Jansen Time of article published Mar 3, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – Werner Kok has been around the block as a Blitzbok. That is if you can call his fifty World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments by that name.

The player nicknamed ‘Tarzan’ played a starring role in the South Africans’ come-from-way-behind victory at the Los Angeles Sevens on Sunday.

Over the years at the team's base in Stellenbosch, he would have seen a number of players come and go, some moving on but the talented, committed few staying on and making a name for themselves in the abbreviated game. 

One of the first graduates of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy, he would also have been privy to the growth of the talent in the SA Schools and other age-group Sevens sides and how it all contributed to the success of the national Sevens team.

While social media was abuzz with the Blitzboks heroics in Los Angeles on Monday morning (SA time), it was a case of dejavu for Kok. In fact, one could forgive him if he simply said: ‘Ja, been there, done that.’

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Kok had, in fact, been there before as he was part of the squad who fought back from 19-0 down to beat Fiji at the Singapore Sevens last year.

He couldn’t praise the talent in the Blitzboks set-up enough, saying: “Our depth is amazing – we have so many young players in the system who are playing so well.” 

“We had some very experienced guys in the squad, such as Branco du Preez, Chris Dry, Cecil Afrika and myself, but the younger players’ talents are amazing. They are really playing well and the results are there to prove it.”

Kok was also referring to the Blitzboks ‘feeder system’ of the SA Sevens Academy as well as the SA Schools Sevens team. The latter won the Capricorn International Sevens tournament in Windhoek at the weekend.

With the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July firmly in his crosshairs, the former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year is committed to giving it his all for the game of Sevens until then.

Kok, who had a brief stint in French club rugby last year will pursue a fifteens career with the Cell C Sharks following the Olympic Games.

“These younger guys are all keen to be part of the squad for the Olympic Games and they are really laying down a marker. That is good news, not only for the Olympics, but also the rest of the World Series,” said Kok.

The Blitzboks on Monday arrived in Vancouver from Los Angeles for the weekend’s Canada Sevens where they are the defending champions.


Michael Jansen

 

IOL Sport  

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