The enjoyment of playing for the Springbok Sevens team, being part of a special group of players and having an opportunity to make the country proud will be some of the driving factors for the Blitzboks this week in London as they prepare for the penultimate tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
For Muller du Plessis it will be a week filled with smiles, as this weekend’s HSBC London Sevens will provide him with another chance to play for the Blitzboks following a stop-start season due to injury, at a favourite venue in a much-liked city and amongst the closest of friends.
In fact, said Du Plessis, it is a tournament they await with much anticipation.
“There is a good feeling amongst the guys – we trained well, are in good spirits and a good space and everyone is looking forward to the weekend,” said Du Plessis.
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 got 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 got 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.”
In previous years, the Springbok Sevens squad arrived in London with a very real possibility of still claiming the World Series. In 2017, they were crowned World Series champions at Twickenham and left the stadium knowing that they were number one.
Last year, after the tournaments in London and Paris were swopped around, they sealed their double in the French capital, but again delivered some good performances at Twickenham.
This time around, they are looking to secure fourth spot on the log, which will mean automatic qualification to the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
Du Plessis said he wants to go out and enjoy himself, a mind-set that is prevalent across the squad: “I am healthy now and keen to go out and play and that is the same across the squad. We are looking forward to this weekend.”