Werner Kok gets to join an illustrious group of Springbok Sevens players in Los Angeles this weekend.
He will take to the field in his 50th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament. His achievement follows hot on the heels of Justin Geduld, who joined Branco du Preez, Chris Dry, Cecil Afrika, Frankie Horne, Kyle Brown and Philip Snyman in Club 50 in Sydney.
“It was not something I ever thought would happen, so it is going to be a great feeling, no doubt,” says Werner Kok.
He said this as the team prepared for the HSBC LA Sevens at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Los Angeles.
“I have shared some amazing things with this squad and to hit 50 tournaments with them is a very rewarding feeling. It will also be a bit emotional for me knowing I am leaving them at the end of the World Series, but for now, I just want to go out there and enjoy the feeling of being a Blitzbok alongside these fantastic players.”
Kok has worn the Blitzbok jersey in 249 matches and, should he get game time against Kenya on Saturday, he will reach his 250th match.
“It will be pretty amazing, I am sure. I still recall my very first match for the Blitzboks [in 2013]. I came off the bench against France in London and my first act was to defend, but the guy stepped me blind,” Kok chuckles.
“Luckily I could work back and then won the turn-over two phases later. My first start was at the same tournament in the quarterfinals against England.”
He missed out altogether the next season though as Paul Treu, Blitzbok coach at the time, did not see Kok as part of his plans.
Kok then enrolled at the Western Province Rugby Institute, from where he was drafted into the SA Rugby Sevens Academy – and the rest is history.
“This team has meant so much to me – I was part of the team that won the World Series twice and then got an Olympic medal as well. Those are pretty special moments”Werner Kok
Kok hopes for a final hurrah at the Olympic Games in Japan in July.
“Yes, I am pushing hard for a place in that squad, but that is still in the distance,” he said.
“For now, we need to focus on what awaits us this weekend. We are in a tough pool and although it will be my 50th tournament, we can’t expect any favours from anyone.
“It will be great if we can win it, but that is not where the focus is. We need to make sure we execute our game plan in order to be successful.”