Horne looking to lift Blitzbokke
The Springbok Sevens team will be looking for redemption in Port Elizabeth this weekend, and when they do they will have no better leader to take them forward than Frankie Horne.
Horne will captain the side for the first time as he equals the SA Record of 44 tournaments – but while that is remarkable in itself in equalling Fabian Juries’s long-standing mark, it makes it more exceptional in that Horne has played all 44 tournaments consecutively.
Still, as he leads the team out Friday to etch his name in the SA record books, Horne knows just how great his task is as he leads a Blitzbokke team into battle who are still scarred from their poor showing in Dubai.
“I’m proud to lead the team,” Horne told supersport.com, “But never wanted to do it in such a manner. I’ve got big shoes to fill.
“In my time with the team I’ve seen just about everything – including Bowl finals,” he laughs, referring to the team’s loss in the bowl competition in the Emirate, nowhere near where they wanted to be at the end of the competition.
The poor show has meant they have a rough group. They face Samoa again after losing to them in Dubai, the dangerous French and unpredictable Australia. In all, they have been the masters of their own destiny and now need to rectify matters.
To that end they have been working hard this week and welcome back Cecil Afrika and Cheslyn Colby, both players who can snatch a game in an instant, but other than losing Branco du Preez and Brown in Dubai, this week has also seen them lose another talisman in Steven Hunt, one of the harder working players in the team.
Still, Horne knows the task will be great, but there simply is no other path forward. Plus, on the positive side, they have beaten all three those sides before in the series, and provided they start well, have little to fear in the group but their own form.
“I think the injuries to Kyle and Branco hit the guys quite hard in Dubai. They both are big players in our team and they are players who know how to keep the team on the front foot. By losing them, we left a big void and the younger guys needed to step up and there was a lot of pressure on us,” Horne said.
“We were a bit off our game as well and we had chances we didn’t use. But we were always in it. If you look we lost most of those games by one or two points.”
The Blitzbokke will know New Zealand are looking for a fourth title, but also that like them, England, Fiji, Argentina and Australia will be looking for better showings.
They know their destiny is in their own hands, and they have what it takes to make things right.
As Horne, a man of few words says, the task now is simple, they have to go do the job.
Blitzbokke’s games on Saturday (all games are on SSHD and SS1, Times are CAT, GMT+2)
1.12pm Samoa v South Africa
4.40pm France v South Africa
7.36pm South Africa v Australia
A: Samoa, France, South Africa, Australia
B: New Zealand, Fiji, Scotland, England
C: Kenya, Wales, Argentina, Spain
D: Portugal, Canada, USA, Zimbabwe.
Past winners of RSA tournament
2011: New Zealand (PE)
2010: New Zealand (George)
2009: New Zealand (George)
2008: South Africa (George)
2007: New Zealand (George)
2006: New Zealand (George)
2005: Fiji (George)
2004: New Zealand (George)
2003: England (George)
2002: Fiji (George)
2001: New Zealand (Durban)
2000: New Zealand (Durban)
1999: Fiji (Stellenbosch)
BlitzBokke results at NMBS, Port Elizabeth in 2011:
Played 6, Won 5, Lost 1
Beat Canada 33-0 (Pool C)
Beat Kenya 45-0 (Pool C)
Beat Australia 26-0 (Pool C)
Beat France 26-12 (Quarterfinal Cup)
Beat Samoa 12-7 (Semifinal Cup)
Lost to New Zealand 31-16 (Final Cup)