Blitzboks’ new look squad needs to become a team

25 April 2018 - 17:09 By Craig Ray
Neil Powell, head coach of South Africa, after the Rugby 7's semi final match between the Blitzboks and Fiji on day 11 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Robina Stadium on April 15, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.
Neil Powell, head coach of South Africa, after the Rugby 7's semi final match between the Blitzboks and Fiji on day 11 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Robina Stadium on April 15, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

The message from Blitzbok coach Neil Powell to a squad split evenly between the ‘second stringers’ from Hong Kong and the ‘first team’ who did duty at the Commonwealth Games‚ is to ‘play as a team.’

Powell decided on two separate squads for Hong Kong and the Gold Coast and had mixed results.

It has left South Africa in a small crisis of confidence as they prepare for the Singapore leg of the World Sevens Series this weekend.

The callow group did admirably in Hong Kong‚ coming third and maintaining SA’s lead at the top of the World Series standings.

The experienced group of seasoned campaigners failed to pick up a medal at the Commonwealth Games.

This weekend six players from each group form the Blitzbok squad for round eight of the 10 leg series.

“We have one group of guys who are very keen to maintain their form from Hong Kong and show they deserve a permanent spot in the team‚ and another group itching to redeem themselves after the disappointment of Australia‚” Powell said.

“It is great to have 12 players all wanting to prove a point; the danger will be if they wanted to do so as individuals. So the message is a simple one‚ play as a team and we will achieve more.

“We always knew that three tournaments in four weeks would be really taxing‚ hence the decision to send different teams to Hong Kong and Gold Coast and then combine them for Singapore.

"I am happy that we have a lot of energy in the squad for this weekend.”

Powell is also satisfied that the combinations will not be a problem in Singapore: “Only two guys did not go to Las Vegas and Vancouver‚ Heino (Bezuidenhout) and James (Murphy)‚ so we should not have a problem with the team playing together as a unit‚” Powell said.

“It is a tough tournament and in recent years the likes of Samoa‚ Kenya and Canada have won here while the leading teams struggled.”

The Blitzboks lead Fiji by three points on the overall log and Powell said their focus this week will be on the way they play and implement their processes.

“We are not looking at outside factors such as the standings or what other teams are doing. We will try to implement what we want to achieve and the results will look after themselves if we manage that‚" Powell said.

The Blitzboks face Samoa‚ Canada and Argentina in Pool C of the tournament.


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