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Photo: David Becker/Gallo Images)

Photo: David Becker/Gallo Images)

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell feels the biggest challenge to his team at this weekend’s HSBC Canada Sevens will not be the opponents they face, but rather their own ability to play as a team.

The Blitzboks face Russia, Scotland and New Zealand in Vancouver on Saturday and will contest the sixth tournament in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a number of players running out in BC Place for the first time.

The team’s ability to play as a unit and for the younger players to adapt to the demands of the series will be crucial, the coach believes. More than half of the squad members have a combined total of tournament caps that less than that of Kyle Brown (63), the Blitzboks’ most experienced player. Powell does not mind that.

“The junior players are a week more experienced than last weekend in Las Vegas, so they have another opportunity to improve and contribute,” said Powell.

“The reality is that if I had the likes of Rosko Specman and Werner Kok available, I would have played them. They are not here though and I need to play the youngsters, but I am pleased about that.

“They need to get time on the field to develop as players, and this weekend is a great opportunity not only for them, but for our system as well. We do need to create opportunities to broaden our base and this tournament provides us with that.”Powell wants results and effort to equal each other this weekend: “We always measure our own effort first, because if that is enough, positive results follow. I think we have prepared well enough, so the only thing left is for us to deliver a performance this weekend that we can be proud of.”

The Springbok Sevens team for the HSBC Canada Sevens:

1. Ryan Oosthuizen (5 tournaments, 17 matches, 10 points, 2 tries)

2. Philip Snyman (captain – 51 tournaments, 331 matches, 331 points, 60 tries)

3. Dylan Sage (20 tournaments, 110 matches, 120 points, 24 tries)

4. Zain Davids (8 tournaments, 31 matches, 10 points, 2 tries)

5. Ruhan Nel (25 tournaments, 132 matches, 232 points, 46 tries)

6. Kyle Brown (63 tournaments, 318 matches, 410 points, 82 tries)

7. Branco du Preez (59 tournaments, 296 matches, 1128 points, 81 tries)

8. Muller du Plessis (1 tournament, 1 match, 0 points)

9. Selvyn Davids (2 tournaments, 9 matches, 16 points)

10. Cecil Afrika (58 tournaments, 303 matches, 1385 points, 168 tries)

11. Siviwe Soyizwapi (14 tournaments, 65 matches, 215 points, 43 tries)

12. Stedman Gans (7 tournaments, 26 matches, 10 points, 2 tries)

13. Marco Labuschagne (1 tournament, 2 matches, 0 points)*

*Replacement Player

Playing schedule (SA times):

Saturday 9 March:

19h52: v Russia

23h24: v Scotland

Sunday 10 March

02h56: v New Zealand

Selected Statistics:

Head to Head:

· SA v Russia: Played 20, Won 20. Average score: 36-5

· SA v Scotland: Played 44, Won 38. Average score: 26-10

· SA vs NZ: Played 77. Won 27. Average score: 15-20

Milestones:

· Cecil Afrika (1385) can improve his SA career points’ scoring record. Afrika, currently on 88 points, can also reach 100 points for the season.

· Branco du Preez (358) can improve his SA record for the number of conversions taken during his career.

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