Soyizwapi stood tall and proud, this son of Maclear from the Nozulu and Mpafane clan, representing his country along with 15 others captains from around the world. “Shakes”, as he is affectionately known in HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, said he felt immensely honoured at that moment.

“I always saw the captain's photo on previous tours with Philip (Snyman) in it, never thinking that one day I would there as well,” he admitted.

“Me standing there, interacting with the other captains, made me realise the moment and the reality – I am captaining the side in Hong Kong this weekend.”

The help from senior guys in the team helped ease the thought as well: “Being made captain for this trip was easy so far as I have the support of the squad and senior guys such as Branco du Preez, Justin Geduld, Chris Dry and Werner Kok really contributed and supported me in the leadership aspects.

“Standing there for the photo shoot made me realise what massive honour and responsibility it is for me,” he said, keen to move the conversation to the squad and their prep.

South Africa face Japan on Friday and Samoa and Scotland on Saturday as they try to win the tournament for the first time in 20 years of the World Series.

“We have been training very well,” said Soyizwapi.

“The intensity is high, the guys are keen and the input very good. There has been good energy and the fact that we are enjoying each other’s company off the field as well makes everyone keen to get started.”

Soyizwapi is under no illusion of the task ahead and the challenges facing the Blitzboks, despite having won the previous tournament in Vancouver.

“We have a lot of new combinations and younger players in the squad and we almost need to start over. It is exciting for us, but also demanding on the system,” he said, adding that there is momentum and confidence flowing from that win in Canada.

“It started at the camp in Stellenbosch, the eagerness to take on the next challenge, in this case, Hong Kong.”

Soyizwapi believes he knows the triggers to make the team perform best: “We are a happy team. We play best when the guys are in a good space and happy with each other's company and playing for the guys next to you. If we get that going early, it will be a goal achieved and a box ticked.”

Winning in Hong Kong will be the sweetest thing then?

“I’ve always had good memories of Hong Kong, making my debut here, scoring my first try, this is the place where it all started for me. I love playing here and this time, being the captain, will be even more so. We did not speak about winning, but if we stick to what we believe in, that could just be the best memory of them all.”

• The Blitzboks had a late injury setback on Wednesday, with Zain Davids ruled out with a shoulder injury. Chris Dry will replace him, while James Murphy is on his way from South Africa to take over as official squad reserve.