The year 2023 loomed large in her planning and she looked set to don the Protea colours at the Netball World Cup in Cape Town next year.

Instead, De Bruin, now 27 years old, will make that international debut a year earlier and in another sporting code, after she discovered and fell in love with the oval ball and sevens rugby, to be exact.

As unexpected as the bounce of a rugby ball can be, as unexpected was De Bruin's entry in rugby, where she has excelled to such an extent that she is likely to make her Rugby World Cup Sevens debut on Friday, at Cape Town Stadium of all places.

"I was still working as hard as ever on my netball and although I was in the Proteas group and knocking on the door, I just could not make that breakthrough I was working towards," said De Bruin on Monday, where the Springbok Women's Sevens were preparing for their opening match against France on Friday.

“Then, by chance, earlier this year I was asked to come and try out rugby by Tuks coach, Riaan van der Merwe. I decided to give it a go, I had nothing to lose. And I immediately felt a connection with the game.”

The instant lure might be because of her rugby roots as her dad played the game and her brother, Luan, represented the Junior Springboks and Toyota Cheetahs before he signed with Edinburgh last year.

"I grew up in a rugby family and often played with my brother, although he was always twice my size," De Bruin remembered with a broad smile.

"The fact is, it was not alien to me and maybe that is why I could cross over so easily."

Although netball is not a contact sport, there is enough bodychecking and contact, De Bruin explains, but it was the tackling that needed the most work.

"I am used to the bumps and bruises from netball and don't mind being tackled, for me it was making the tackles that was the biggest issue in the beginning,” she said.

“I am a pretty determined and diligent person once I set my goals and I wanted to make sure I get the tackles right from the start, the position of your head, the shape of the body, how low to go, all the aspects of making tackles.”

Lerato Makua and Marlize de Bruin at training in Cape Town.

Lerato Makua and Marlize de Bruin at training in Cape Town.

Her progress in rugby was rapid. Soon, she was travelling abroad to play with Delta Drone Tuks Rugby and during one such a session, national coach Paul Delport, was in attendance. He clearly liked what he saw and when he named his squad to travel to Chile for World Rugby's Challenger Series last month, De Bruin was an excited debutant.

Delport had little doubt to include "Marra", as she is known amongst teammates, in his World Cup squad, despite her relative inexperience, and he is convinced that she has the knowledge of the game and the physical dynamics to perform for her country.

"I am still learning, I am a bit of a sponge at the moment, to be honest,” she added. “It is such a great experience for me, and I am improving every day. The knowledge that I could be playing on the international stage so soon is massive for me. Running out for my country in Cape Town could indeed be the dream come true.”