London opportunity for Blitzboks
The Blitzboks have two more tournaments left in the current 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Series campaign to secure their automatic Olympic Games qualification.
This weekend’s London leg of the series in the penultimate of a season where the top four are guaranteed a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Currently the Blitzboks are comfortably in fourth on 121 points thanks to winning two of the last three tournaments in Vancouver and Singapore.
They are 14 points clear of fifth placed England.
Barring a dramatic under-performance in London and next week in Paris‚ the Blitzboks should comfortably lock down their Tokyo place in the coming fortnight.
For Muller du Plessis‚ one of the up-and-coming next generation Blitzboks stars‚ London is another opportunity for the team to grow towards next year’s climax in Japan.
But for Du Plessis‚ it is also a chance to nail down a permanent berth in the squad after an injury-plagued season.
The 19-year-old speedster started the season with a bang‚ scoring a hat-trick of tries against Fiji in Dubai‚ but things went sour after that.
He was injured in their opening game in Cape Town a week later and also missed the tournaments in Hamilton and Sydney.
Du Plessis was named as travelling reserve for the tournament in Las Vegas‚ where he enjoyed some game time before a solid contribution in Vancouver‚ where the Blitzboks delivered a superb performance to win the HSBC Canada Sevens for the first time.
In his 13 matches at the time‚ he scored 10 tries.
A shoe-in for the tournaments in Hong Kong and Singapore‚ Du Plessis pulled up with a leg injury in the week leading up to their departure for the Far East‚ and as a result he again missed out.
But this week in London‚ Du Plessis is fit and ready.
“Doing rehab instead of playing is never first option‚” he admitted.
“It does give you time though to work on certain elements of your game and get the body strong again.
"I was itching to play and was ecstatic to hear that I was selected.”
Du Plessis enjoys London and Twickenham and is keen to get going on Saturday‚ when the Blitzboks face Japan‚ Canada and Argentina in Pool A of the event.
“I play in a position where the competition is fierce‚” said Du Plessis.
“’Shakes’ (Siviwe Soyizwapi) had an outstanding year so far‚ while Angelo (Davids) and Mfundo (Ndhlovu) also enjoyed good runs when they played.
“But the good thing is that we really push each other in training‚ which brings out the best in you.
"I was fortunate enough to make the team this time‚ so I will do my best not to disappoint the trust Coach Neil (Powell) showed.
"Also‚ playing for the guys in this squad‚ you cannot but give your best‚ as you know they will be doing the same for you.”