The Springbok Sevens team will be looking for a solid start to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series when the first tournament of the 2016/17 season kicks off at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on Friday.
The Blitzboks are top seeds in Pool B with Uganda, Scotland and the USA. Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said the team is keen to get going.
“Last year we started introducing some established fifteens guys into our structure as we looked at finding the right combinations for the Olympic Games,” said Powell.
“This time around, we arrived with a squad full of sevens regulars. In fact, four of the five most experience players ever in the Blitzbok shirt are here in Dubai, so a lack of experience will definitely not be an issue.”
Powell was excited to see what his squad can do in the desert city.“We have some solid performers that has done well at this level. Cecil Afrika (2011), Werner Kok (2015) and Seabelo Senatla (2016) were named World Sevens Players of the Year in the past and all three are looking very sharp in training,” said Powell.
“Kyle Brown and Chris Dry have played for us more than 50 times and our new captain, Philip Snyman, is getting close to the 40 tournament mark already. All that experience and talent will count for nothing though if we do not bring our best effort to the field. We are facing Uganda, Scotland and the USA in what will be a very tough pool.”
Any opening match is always tough and Uganda will have a lot to prove, so Powell was wary of their opening match at 08h06 (South African time).
“I don’t have to point to the Scotland match (at 11h06) at all, we all know what happened in our previous clash and us losing the London Sevens after the final buzzer,” said Powell.
“We will be up for this one. The USA (15h06) remains one of the most dangerous teams on the circuit. They can really hurt you with their pace and counter-attack, so we need to be clinical and have no tolerance for mistakes, either on attack or defence.
“Most of all though, everyone in the squad are looking forward in getting the season started. We worked hard in pre-season and the squad made me proud with their willingness to dig deep and work hard.”
Powell is hoping that history can repeat itself, as the South Africans have won this tournament four times before.
“This tournament has been good to South Africa in the past and we have won here before. The support we normally get from the huge group of South African fans is no doubt worth an extra player,” said Powell.
The Springbok Sevens Pool B fixtures are (SA time)”
South Africa v Uganda (08h06)
South Africa v Scotland (11h06)
South Africa v USA (15h06)
The Springbok Sevens squad for the Emirates Dubai Sevens tournament is:
1. Chris Dry (52 tournaments, 360 points)
2. Philip Snyman (captain, 37, 211)
3. Dylan Sage (7, 40)
4. Kwagga Smith (24, 250)
5. Werner Kok (19, 210)
6. Kyle Brown (56, 385)
7. Branco du Preez (45, 874)
8. Rosko Specman (13, 169)
9. Justin Geduld (25, 558)
10. Cecil Afrika (45, 1123)
11. Ruhan Nel (11, 110)
12. Seabelo Senatla (29, 785)
13. Siviwe Soyizwapi (3, 30)*