Already another of the Nozulu - Siviwe Soyizwapi - is scoring tries like it is going out of fashion and is the Springbok Sevens leading try-scorer in the 2018/19 World Rugby Sevens Series. Makata, who played at wing in fifteens and represented Border at the Craven Week (2016) and DHL Western Province in the SA Rugby Under-19 Provincial Championships (2017) in that position, made a move to the shorter game after being scouted by SA Rugby Sevens Academy Manager, Marius Schoeman.
The 20-year old, who attended Stirling High School in East London, took to the sevens code with ease and developed in leaps and bounds and will next week become the 176th Blitzbok to play in the World Series when he take to the field at the HSBC Las Vegas Sevens at Sam Boyd Stadium.
He groomed his skills as a forward in the SA Rugby Sevens Academy side and played in tournaments in Dubai and South America and proved his appetite for the game. He is big -183cm and 97kg - and with his speed will be an ideal fit in a team that is renowned for it's lethal combination of skill, vision and pace as well as a punishing defence and clinical approach to the breakdown.
Powell, the only person to have won the World Series as a player and a coach, decided to draft Makata into the side for the tournament as he builds depth into the squad deprived of a host of players that won the series last year.
Makata’s inclusion was always on the cards, said the coach.
“Sako has been with us for the last two years and deserves this opportunity. He has been a real stalwart for the SA Rugby Academy side in that time, co-captaining them to Dubai and South America, and now he gets the opportunity he has been working very hard for. He is a strong young man and very coachable and I am very pleased to have him in the squad,” said Powell.
Earlier this month the coach called on another youngster, JC Pretorius, to play for the team in Sydney, the previous stop on tour. That injection of youth now continues with Makata's inclusion.
“JC showed in Sydney that the younger guys are ready and itching to play. Part of the wider strategy this year was to expand the player base and with Sako part of our plans going forward, so his inclusion is a natural progression in our plan."
Powell said the trip will be about restoring pride in their performances: “We are travelling with a younger group, but I have faith in the abilities of every player in the squad.
“We need to regain our consistency and we fixed a number of things at training in the last week, so the focus will be in implementing that in our matches against Japan, Chile and England,” he said.
One debutant for the #Blitzboks for the @USA7s tournament in Las Vegas. Sako Makata will come into the team for the first time as coach @Neil5Powell add a couple of younger players. Here is a sample of what Makata can do. @WorldRugby7s @CastleFreeSA @FNBSA @ASICS_ZA pic.twitter.com/WrDdsqwevr— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) February 21, 2019
The Springbok Sevens squad is:
1. Ryan Oosthuizen – 12 tournaments; 56 matches (60 points, 12 tries)
2. Philip Snyman (captain) – 58 tournaments; 263 matches, 356 points (65 tries, 16 conversions)
3. Impi Visser – 4 tournaments; 24 matches, 10 points (2 tries)
4. Sako Makata – on debut
5. Werner Kok – 41 tournaments; 208 matches, 480 points (96 tries)
6. JC Pretorius – 1 tournament, 6 matches, 0 points
7. Branco du Preez – 65 tournaments; 328 matches, 1204 points (86 tries, 383 conversions, 1 penalty, 1 drop goal)
8. Selvyn Davids – 9 tournaments; 42 matches, 160 points (20 tries, 30 conversions)
9. Justin Geduld – 40 tournaments; 206 matches, 889 points (92 tries, 213 conversions, 1 penalty)
10. Stedman Gans – 13 tournaments; 58 matches, 85 points (17 tries)
11. Siviwe Soyizwapi – 22 tournaments; 113 matches, 360 points (72 tries)
12. Mfundo Ndhlovu – 2 tournaments, 10 matches, 10 points (2 tries).
13. Muller du Plessis – 6 tournaments, 26 matches, 85 points (17 tries) – official reserve
● The Blitzboks have won the HSBC Las Vegas Sevens four times – in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017.
● Branco du Preez was part of the squad that won the HSBC Las Vegas Sevens on all four occasions.
● Werner Kok could score his 100th try for the Blitzboks in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. He dotted down 96 times for his country already.