Break the shackles‚ Snyman urges Blitzboks

07 June 2018 - 16:18 By Craig Ray
Ruhan Nel of South Africa in action for the Blitzboks.
Ruhan Nel of South Africa in action for the Blitzboks.
Image: Springbok Sevens via Twitter

Blitzbok skipper Philip Snyman has urged his players to break the shackles and have fun in the 2017/2018 World Sevens Series finale in Paris this weekend.

It’s the 10th and final round of a season‚ which the Fijians have dominated although they are not in the clear yet.

The Blitzboks could still retain the title they won 12 months ago but it would require an uncharacteristic implosion by log leaders Fiji for that to happen.

The Pacific islanders hold a seven-point lead over the Blitzboks at the top of the standings and would have to be eliminated at the quarterfinal stage for the defending champions to have any chance. And even then‚ South Africa would have to win the tournament to overhaul Fiji.

So Snyman has decided that focus should be elsewhere as his team does not have control of its own destiny anymore.

“I just want the guys to go out and express themselves and play with a smile‚” said Snyman‚ who admitted the Blitzboks will not be looking at the final log position.

“I have seen in the past‚ when we do that‚ we are playing well. And when we play well‚ we are a difficult team to beat.

“How Fiji do in this tournament is out of our hands‚ but we can determine our own performances.

"We have played in a number of finals this season‚ but only won in Dubai‚ so we owe it to ourselves to finish strong here in Paris and try and win another tournament.”

That has been the main difference between Fiji and SA this season.

The Olympic champions have won five finals‚ including the last four in a row‚ while the Blitzboks have lost three of the four finals they have been in.

For all their consistency throughout the season‚ with nine semi-final appearances‚ the Blitzboks have lacked Fiji’s cutting edge.

In many ways it would be a travesty if the side that so far has won 60% of the tournaments this season‚ were not to go on and claim the World Series title.

Injuries and juggling selections have hampered the Blitzboks‚ so on that count their ability to remain consistently in the running for titles has been impressive.

Youngsters such as Stedman Gans‚ Dewald Human and Mfundo Ndhlovu are the next generation of players to emerge and could all boost their World Cup prospects in Paris this weekend.

“Every time I get an opportunity‚ I feel that my confidence is there‚” Gans said.

“It feels like I have more time on the ball and more time to make decisions‚ which is great. I have grown as a player and continue to do so. This weekend I want to become an even better player and Blitzbok.”

Ndhlovu joined the squad as 13th player (official reserve) on Tuesday and he said he is excited about a potential appearance in Paris.

“I played in Hong Kong for the first time and it was an amazing experience‚” he said “It is unfortunate that I had to come here due to injuries to Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez‚ but that is the way it goes.

“I also realise that I will only get an opportunity if there is another injury‚ but that is fine.

"Until then‚ I will soak up the presence of being in the same team with players such as Seabelo Senatla. And when the chance comes‚ I will play my heart out.” The Blitzboks play Canada‚ Russia and Scotland in Pool B on Saturday.