All going to plan for Blitzboks as Cape Town looms
The Blitzboks were back to work on Monday having already put victory at the 2017/18 Wold Sevens Series opener in Dubai behind them‚ as they began preparations for their home tournament in Cape Town.
After winning all six matches in Dubai‚ which included beating New Zealand 24-12 in the final‚ the Blitzboks made the best possible start to the defence of their title.
As far as plans go‚ it has worked out perfectly for coach Neil Powell.
In a season that includes the defence of their Commonwealth Games gold medal in the Gold Coast next April‚ and the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco in July‚ The Blitzboks’ won’t be at maximum strength in every World Series tournament.
Powell has stated that he intends to mix and match his squad in an attempt to be at optimum capacity for the two cutthroat once-off events later in the season.
Star try-scorer Seabelo Senatla and bruising forward Kwagga Smith will only play the first four tournaments as they are due to return to fifteens rugby with the Stormers and Lions respectively early next near.
Their influence in Dubai was huge and if they can continue to perform at the same level‚ Powell’s plan to play his best and most experienced squad in the opening four tournaments‚ is on track.
Senatla snaffled seven tries in Dubai to become the fifth-highest try-scorer in World Series history on 196.
It has taken him only 173 matches and this weekend‚ barring injury‚ he should break through the 200-try barrier in Cape Town this weekend.
Despite his try-scoring heroics in Dubai‚ he was a little rusty at the beginning after campaigning for Western Province in the Currie Cup this season.
"You have to get back into it‚ as the game keep on evolving‚” Senatla said.
“You need to keep on learning all the time. This is a special team and you want to play with these brothers. These guys rejuvenate me.”
Smith also took a little time to find his sevens legs again‚ and was named player of the final against NZ.
"It is nice to be back. It is easy to shine‚ as the guy next you is doing the hard work in order to allow his teammates to play at their best‚” Smith said about the Dubai tournament.
“It was a good win‚ as we played against opponents with different styles and strengths. We managed to stick to what we wanted to achieve and scored a good win out there. We must stay humble though and keep on working hard."
For veteran forward Kyle Brown it was a happy return also. He missed eight tournaments after snapping knee ligaments almost a year ago.
"It was pretty incredible to be back‚” Brown said. “I was eased into action and I am grateful for that. Overall‚ we had some pretty awesome moments. We were fit enough and were lucky that conditions were pretty similar to our base in Stellenbosch. We were a bit rusty on day one‚ but played well on day two and that will give us some confidence going forward‚" Brown said.
*The pools for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens have been announced.
The first match on Saturday will start at 10h15 when Canada takes on Samoa.
Pool A: South Africa‚ Kenya‚ France‚ Russia
Pool B: New Zealand‚ Australia‚ Spain‚ USA
Pool C: England‚ Scotland‚ Argentina‚ Uganda
Pool D: Fiji‚ Samoa‚ Canada‚ Wales