Birth­day boy Pre­to­rius still learn­ing

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport - Own Correspond­ent

It feels as if he has been around for ages, but it is only a year ago that a fresh-faced JC Pre­to­rius made his in­ter­na­tional de­but for the Spring­bok Sevens team in the World Rugby Sevens Se­ries.

Pre­to­rius turned 21 just be­fore the 2019 Syd­ney Sevens and cel­e­brated that mile­stone with his in­ter­na­tional de­but, where he im­me­di­ately showed im­mense ap­petite for rugby at this level. He had barely blown out the can­dles on his birth­day cake in the team room, than Pre­to­rius made his de­but against Tonga, with a 45-5 vic­tory help­ing him to a win in in his first match for the Bl­itzboks, de­spite only get­ting a minute of ac­tion on the field.

In his sec­ond match, a 25-10 win over Ar­gentina, Pre­to­rius got four min­utes of ac­tion. His first de­feat with the team came against Aus­tralia, when the hosts edged the Bl­itzboks 29-21 af­ter lead­ing 17-7 at the break in their fi­nal pool match.

And on the sec­ond day of ac­tion last year in Syd­ney, Pre­to­rius got his first start in the green and gold, when Eng­land won 26-5, but the Bl­itzboks ended the tour­na­ment with a 12-10 win over Aus­tralia to claim fifth place over­all.

Since then, he has played in Las Ve­gas, Van­cou­ver (be­fore in­jury ruled him out of Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore), Lon­don, Paris, Dubai, Cape Town and Hamil­ton.

More im­por­tantly, the for­mer flanker who turns 22 today, has now claimed a start­ing berth and is one of the first names Neil Pow­ell jots down on his team sheet, but he still sees ev­ery tour­na­ment and ev­ery match as a learn­ing curve.

“I cer­tainly came a long way since last year when I took over from Kyle Brown,” said Pre­to­rius, who hails from Se­cunda. “You learn some­thing new ev­ery day and in ev­ery match in the World Se­ries. That is what is so great about play­ing Sevens. With the mar­gins so small, you can never be 100%. Ev­ery match and ev­ery tour­na­ment is a new test of your abil­i­ties and where you need to im­prove,” said Pre­to­rius.

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