Impi Visser. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES
Impi Visser. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES

The Blitzboks do not have to battle three campaigns this season that stretched their playing resources to the limit in 2017‚ but even so coach Neil Powell is introducing a new player in Impi Visser in Dubai this weekend.

The 23-year-old Visser‚ whose first name means warrior‚ will make his Blitzbok debut in the first round of the 2018/2019 HSBC World Sevens Series starting on Friday.

He graduated from the SA Sevens Academy in Stellenbosch.

Visser is not only a graduate of the highly respected programme‚ but also a university graduate‚ having earned a mechanical engineering degree at Pretoria University.

“It was a dream of mine to play in the green and gold and now it will come true‚” Visser said from Dubai where the team is preparing.

“It is an amazing feeling and I cannot wait. This is just so unbelievable‚ but true.

“It was such a tough year for me‚ but that is all in the past now. I am so honoured to be able to be here and to use this opportunity presented to me.”

Visser picked up a serious ankle injury in January playing for the academy in South America and relocated from Pretoria to Stellenbosch‚ where he has just completed his final year.

A centre in fifteens – he represented the University of Pretoria when they claimed the FNB Varsity Cup title in 2017 – Visser is used as a forward in sevens‚ and he is clear on his role and responsibilities come the opening match in Pool A against Zimbabwe.

The team environment will aid him‚ he believes. “This is just an amazing group of guys‚” he said. “They always have a joke up their sleeves‚ but are so committed and professional when it comes to the Blitzboks.

“Their experience and skills are certainly something I can feed [on]. There is so much to learn from them and to add to my own arsenal as a player.”

There will be experienced heads for Visser to question this weekend, but the fact that he has been selected suggests that his own abilities will also shine.

After the Zimbabwe match‚ the Blitzboks meet Samoa and Argentina‚ which will be a tough start to the season‚ against two very capable sides.

As defending series champions and winners of three of the last four editions of the Dubai leg of the World Series‚ there is pressure on SA to deliver.

That is not uncommon for them though‚ even if Visser does not have first-hand experience of being the team to beat.

“Coach Neil [Powell] always stresses the importance of doing your job in the team‚ to fulfil your responsibilities in the team‚” Visser said. “By doing that‚ everyone else can function and prosper.”