Cape Town — If ever anyone was looking for a symbol of dynamite coming in small packages, they would have to look no further than Ricardo “Tricky Ricky” Duarttee.
The new Blitzbok star hardly touches the waistline of his teammates, but he is built like a brick outhouse, and possesses a side-step that would make even Cheslin Kolbe squirm.
And it’s this explosiveness that was on show in Dubai over the weekend, where Duarttee caught the attention of the Sevens world in his debut tournament.
The 24-year-old’s journey to this point has been an arduous one, though.
Although born-and-bred in the Western Cape, where he attended Stellenberg High, Duartee had to leave his home town to pursue a career at the University of Johannesburg and the Lions initially, before selling his car to enrol at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) in order to sharpen up his Sevens skills.
It’s due to all these factors that he is simply humbled by the opportunity to run out in the green and gold Blitzbok jumper this weekend before his friends and family at the Cape Town Sevens.
“I know where my strength comes from. The Heavenly Father helped a lot. So many times I’ve been denied, haven’t made teams, and then I just had to work harder. And I think my humbleness comes from there. I know how hard I had to work to be here. I know I am replaceable,” Duartee said.
Furthermore, it was a dream that started purely by accident when Duartee was called up to train with the Kenyan Sevens team a few years ago.
“Three years ago when the Sevens was here, coach Jerome Paarwater sent me to go and train with the Kenyans because their numbers were short. So, I had the opportunity to train with a team that plays on the Sevens circuit,” he said.
“It was just amazing to experience their vibe, and their culture, and I told myself that day … that’s what I want to be a part of, and play in the World Sevens Series.
“I have always told myself that I am going to be a Springbok. I believe in manifesting and I prayed for it, and continued to work hard.
“This is just the beginning for me. I just needed a chance to showcase my talent. I have signed for two years, and I am going to give it my all.”
The pint-sized playmaker will certainly play a pivotal role in helping the Blitzboks improve their record at the Cape Town Stadium, with Sandile Ngcobo’s team last winning their home tournament in 2016.