Boks need to break NZ, Fiji hoodoo
The Springbok Sevens team will need to prove they can mix it at the top with the likes of Fiji and New Zealand if they are to make any impact in the final rounds of the HSBC World Sevens Series from Tokyo onwards.
The Series kicks off its seventh tournament in Tokyo early on Saturday morning (SA time) and while Paul Treu’s side is firmly rooted in third place, they are losing touch with the two log leaders with just two rounds left.
As has been the case the last two seasons, the Blitzbokke have failed to score anything more than the odd win over the world’s leading two sides in the series, and time and again exit tournaments by making basic mistakes against Fiji and New Zealand.
The Blitzbokke lost both their clashes to the All Blacks in virtually the same fashion, as turnovers were turned into 80 metre tries and their own mistakes counted against them in both games.
In Las Vegas it was a similar case against the Fijians, who have become the bogey side for the Blitzbokke, and everyone remembers their implosion in the last minutes against the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth.
It now seems as if coach Paul Treu has given up on any chance of winning this year’s series, and will rather fight to repeat last year’s second place.
With New Zealand already 18 points ahead of the Blitzbokke, and Fiji 16, it will take a massive slip-up by both sides in the last three tournaments for the Boks to sneak past them.
It has happened before, but unless the Blitzbokke get their act together when facing the two Sevens superpowers, they will have to be happy with the scraps they are left with.
Treu admitted his side were virtually out of the running when interviewed on Wednesday by the IRB Sevens news service.
“It’s going to be difficult to win the Series, because the gap is just too big at the moment. You may expect one team to slip up in a tournament but to expect both is a bit much,” said Treu.
“I’ll be happy if our players keep growing and progressing to the next level. We’ve been so close in so many games against New Zealand and Fiji and we’ve given it away in the last few minutes. I want us to try and stay the distance in Tokyo and take our opportunities and chances when they come our way.
“The guys must go out there and believe in themselves,” Treu added.
The Blitzbokke have a tricky draw in Tokyo, but one that is well within their capabilities. They face Scotland and new IRB Sevens Series Core team Portugal in their first two pool games, before squaring off against Las Vegas Sevens champs Samoa for a place in the quarterfinals.
But from there they know that somewhere Fiji or New Zealand are waiting, and unless they overcome their demons in Tokyo, the status quo will continue.
All the action will be live on SuperSport 6 from 3am (CAT, SA, GMT+2) with the Blitzbokke facing Scotland at 4.28am, Portugal at 8.03am and Samoa at 11.47am.