Blitzboks forward Kwagga Smith wants to improve his skill-set during the first four tournaments of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
As was the case last season, Smith will play for the sevens side in Dubai, Cape Town, Wellington and Sydney, before returning to the Lions for Super Rugby.
The 24-year-old was red-carded in this year’s Super Rugby final, which the Lions lost to the Crusaders, but received plenty of support afterwards.
‘We had a great season in Super Rugby and although I was sent off in that final, I learned a lot from that experience,’ said Smith.
‘You find athletes preparing for the 100m final of the Olympics only to get false-started, and their race is over before it had begun. We are all human, we all make mistakes. It is how you recover from such misfortunes – that is what people will remember.
‘The Blitzboks form part of my close circle of friends and they were some of the first ones to pick me up again after that incident. They held no grudges, instead, they supported me all the way, so it was easy to come back into this group.’
After missing out on Springbok selection, Smith was named Man of the Match for the Barbarians against the All Blacks earlier this month. He is not dwelling on that performance, though, and is rather keen to push the boundaries with the Blitzboks again.
‘My mindset or goals did not change, despite success and misfortune,’ said Smith.
‘I still strive to become a better player and person every day. Nothing has changed and it is great to be in an environment where everyone else feels the same.
‘Sevens rugby takes no prisoners. You have to perform at your very best if you want to be successful. It is not easy, in fact, it is pretty tough. I don’t see this as a challenge though, rather another opportunity to grow as a player.’
The Blitzboks will face Uganda, Kenya and Canada in Dubai on Friday.
Photo: Tom Dulat/Getty Images