Francois Hougaard is relishing the challenge of making his sevens comeback in Paris this weekend.
Hougaard featured for South Africa during the opening four tournaments of the 2015-16 Sevens World Series in Dubai, Cape Town, Sydney and Wellington.
He then joined English club Worcester Warriors on a short-term deal and he made a huge impression on and off the field to quickly become a crowd favourite. Hougaard’s immediate impact saw the club sign the 27-year-old on a permanent deal after just four games.
While he will head back to England later this year, the player admits he’s looking forward to returning to sevens rugby.
“I had a good time at the Warriors, but I missed my Blitzboks family,” Hougaard told MyPlayers. “I had a great time during the four opening tournaments, so it’s good to be back at training and to be part of the squad again. I knew I had to make the effort to put myself in contention for two tournaments in Paris and London. It’s been a great week and I’m working hard.”
Hougaard admits that it’s been a challenging experience adjusting between 15s and sevens rugby.
“Sevens rugby is not as easy as what it looks like!” explains Hougaard. “There are a lot of structures you need to know, especially on defence. It takes time to get used to it. You can’t expect to walk in and know everything. The harder you work, the better you will adapt.”
The tournaments in Paris and London will be the final competition time ahead of sevens rugby’s debut at the Olympics in August. Hougaard is targeting a spot in the final squad, but stressed that the team are taking things in their stride.
“The Olympic squad is definitely a big goal, but it’s something I keep at the back of my mind. It’s very important to take things week by week and tournament by tournament,” said Hougaard. “One can’t look too far ahead or you will lose sight of the job at hand.
“We’re definitely excited about the upcoming tournaments. We are focused on Paris before turning our attention to London next week.”
By Gareth Duncan