Blitzbokke want to make it count
Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu is hoping that even without the inspiration of Cecil Afrika and regular captain Kyle Brown, his side will be able to turn the tide and produce a tournament winning performance at the Wellington Sevens starting Friday.
Treu knows all too well how his side has put in the hard yards but have fallen short in crucial games – most notably against the likes of New Zealand – and lost out on valuable points in the world series because of it.
Both Brown and Afrika are out with injury, but there is enough talent in the young squad that, if used correctly, and aided and abetted by a bit of luck could have enough to cause a bit of an upset. South Africa remain the only side from outside the South Pacific and the home nation to win in New Zealand.
And while the All Blacks will be looking for a hat-trick of victories, Treu’s side were buoyed by statistics released by the IRB this week that showed they are doing the basics right, and lead the averages of all the teams in the HSBC World Series.
The Blitzbokke have scored the most tries in the opening three tournaments of the series with 68, and have also conceded the least tries in their three tournaments with 28, topping the log on both accounts while also leading the turnovers won count with 44, more than any of the other core teams on the circuit. But results have been varied for the team, with coach Treu wanting them to use their dominance at the right time this weekend.
“At the moment it is a bit difficult for us to explain what is happening on the circuit because in terms of statistics, it shows we are dominating the series in several areas. We are No 1 in terms of tries scored and our turnover differential is way above the rest of the teams on the circuit,” Treu said.
“For us it has been making those critical mistakes in the big games. It has cost us, those one or two turnovers we have conceded at the breakdown, and other teams are capitalising. We are doing a lot of good things, but we need to do the right thing now at the right time, as opposed to doing the right thing at the wrong time.”
The team know their first opponents Samoa, who were poor in Port Elizabeth, will pose possibly the greatest test. Like all the tournaments before, the cliché of winning one game at a time is particularly significant in a pool with the Samoans, Canada and Wales.
“Our first game against Samoa is the most important and we’re only focussing on that one. It is going to be important for us to get stuck in there. I’ve been saying to the players the entire week – how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time – we need to get over the first step before worrying about the other teams.”
But the Blitzbokke have beaten all these teams before, and provided there is the self-belief and passion there is no reason why they cannot head to day two unbeaten.
THE SA SQUAD FOR THE WELLINGTON SEVENS:
1. Chris Dry
2. Philip Snyman
3. Frankie Horne (captain)
4. Warren Whiteley
5. Cornal Hendricks
6. Pieter Engelbrecht
7. Stephan Dippenaar
8. Justin Geduld*
9. Paul Delport
10. Cheslin Kolbe
11. Tshotsho Mbovane
12. Seabelo Senatla*
SA match schedule on Friday morning (CAT, GMT+2, all matches live on SuperSport):
02:44: SA v Samoa
05:40: SA v Canada
10:12: SA v Wales