Blitzbokke superstar Cecil Afrika can’t be more grateful for getting another crack at helping his team become kings of Hong Kong this weekend.
South Africa have never won this event on the World Series calendar and after suffering a serious knee injury at the same venue four years ago, Afrika thought he would never have the opportunity of playing in the big festival again.
A few years on and coach Neil Powell’s charges have still not won the tournament.
To make this weekend’s event even more special for Afrika, the 29-year-old will play in his 50th Sevens tournament and he hopes it will be a special one.
The playmaker explains: “A couple of years back I picked up a bad injury in Hong Kong.
“Such was the extent of the injury I was told that I would be lucky to get another year out of rugby.
“Luckily it turned out that the injury was not that bad, and here I am going back to the same venue to play my 50th tournament.
“In a way, it is a bittersweet feeling because I thought my career was over when I got injured there, and now I will reach a tournament milestone at the same venue.
Having played in three finals at the event in the past, Afrika is hopeful that the team, led by Philip Snyman, can finally break their duck.
He adds: “We can only go out and do our best.
“We had some good results at other venues, but this one keeps eluding us.
“We will be keen to change that.”
Of playing in his 50th tournament, he says: “Ideally, I would have loved to play my 50th in Port Elizabeth in front of my home crowd, but it does not always work like that.
“Hong Kong’s atmosphere is amazing, so I will enjoy the fact that I have achieved something special in a venue like that.”
The Blitzbokke will face France on Friday and Kenya and Japan on Saturday respectively in the pool stages of the competition and hopefully make the playoffs.