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BLITZBOKKE star Steven Hunt is relishing the opportunity to show opposition players a clean pair of heels in front of cheering home fans.
Hunt has become part of a long line of players from the Eastern Cape who have represented South Africa at sevens.
Of the current crop of national stars, Frankie Horne and Cecil Afrika were born in Port Elizabeth while Chase Minnaar grew up in Graaff-Reinet.
In addition, players such as Mpho Mbiyozo, Fabian Juries, Mzwandile Stick and Wayne van Heerden have all made a name for themselves in the sevens format – and Hunt has been following in their footsteps.
He now lives in Stellenbosch but remembers his days in Port Elizabeth with fondness. He matriculated from Grey High in 2006.
“I was brought up in Port Elizabeth and it’s an awesome place to live.”
The 23-year-old flyer was hoping to ride on the emotions created by local fans this weekend.
“I think the excitement of playing in your old city, in front of some of your old mates, has the potential to lift your game substantially,” Hunt said.
Sevens coach Paul Treu said the national side remained reliant on talent produced in the Eastern Cape.
“There is definitely an affinity for sevens rugby here and we’ve always had great players coming from the region, and hopefully that’s the trend going forward.
“Obviously with the EP Kings hanging on to their players now and trying to build their brand and become a Super rugby franchise, it becomes a bit more difficult to draw from them.
“But the region is well represented in our team and it’s an awesome opportunity for them to go out there and do well.”
Hunt has not ruled out a return to the city of his birth.
“There is amazing talent in this part of the country, it’s just unfortunate that players have to leave to try and make it. From my side I’m hoping the Kings are able to retain the players. If you look around the country there are a number of players who come from this area.”
Hunt will be playing in his 10th sevens tournament after making his debut in Wellington last year.