Duarttee, Murphy determined to add value in Perth
Blitzboks look to bounce back from Cape Town disappointment in December and Ricardo Duarttee is ready for the challenge
The Blitzboks are well known for playing with smiles on their faces, so don’t be surprised to see more of that in Perth this weekend when two uncapped players and three returnees will all bring energy to a squad determined to bounce back from a disappointing outing in Cape Town in December.
Perth as a venue will also bring a fresh outlook to the 2024 HSBC SVNS season, but even if the tournament was played at the South Pole, Ricardo Duarttee hopes to be a ray of sunshine to the Blitzboks’ effort, the 26-year-old playmaker said.
After being named as World Rugby’s Rookie of the Year for the 2023 season, “Tricky Ricky” missed out in Dubai and Cape Town as the coaching staff decided to go with a fit-again Selvyn Davids and Ronald Brown in the playmaker/sweeper role.
This time, and much to his relief, Duarttee was named in the squad to travel to the third tournament of the season.
“It is massive to be back,” Duarttee said. “It was not nice missing out as I wanted to be part of another full season, but I understand why the coaches opted for a different combination.
“You have to handle disappointments as well, as it’s all part of the bigger meaning of life.
“For me, it was a matter of self-belief, I still believed that I could contribute to the team and worked hard to prove that.
“This weekend will not be about me, it will be about the team and how we can perform here in Perth.”
Duarttee is quick to add that, despite the accolade from last season, he is still learning and growing as a sevens player, and he tuned into his responsibilities for the weekend.
“There are some really good players in this set-up and, in a way, I was lucky to be able to learn from them when I arrived here,” he said.
“That has not changed as I still try to become a better player every day. Communication is important, everybody must know what the others are planning or expecting.”
For James Murphy, the road back into the squad was slightly different, with illness and injury resulting in the forward missing out on months of training and selection, but his return came at a good time for the two-time World Series winner.
“It is really great to be back, especially after the misfortunes I had with my health and injuries that hampered my progress,” Murphy said, adding that missing out on the first two tournaments didn’t mean he had no role to play over the past two months.
“We all contribute to make the system better. When they won in Dubai, I was as happy as I was unhappy with what transpired in Cape Town.
“The players all work together to achieve the best result, but when things go south, like in Cape Town, we all accept responsibility and put in the extra effort to make sure we bounce back.
“There are some younger players this time around, so I do feel like a senior player in this group and need to deliver accordingly.”
SA Rugby Communications
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