Fair to say Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell is someone with good planning skills and when they were invited to play in the Athlete’s Factory Sevens in Chester come Friday and Saturday, he didn’t hesitate to accept.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicks off in Dubai and Cape Town in December and the England tournament comes at an ideal time for the coach to have a close inspection of the progress the squad made since their pre-season started.
A first hit-out in Germany in September saw the team won the Oktoberfest7s, but with a number of players added to the squad since then, the former World Rugby Sevens Coach of the Year will not only be keen to track their progress, but also those tweaks implemented from the lessons learned in Munich.
“Indeed, this is the ideal and final opportunity for us to test where we are in our preparation before the serious business starts in Dubai and Cape Town in December,” explained Powell.
“We have worked on a couple of things and would like to implement that to see how it works for us in this competitive environment. It might work or not, but we will not know if we don’t try that against top class opponents.”
The Blitzboks will face England, Spain, Hong Kong and the Rambling Jesters in their group.
“You can try things as much as you like on the training fields and things can work perfectly there, but you will only know how well it really works when you play in a match. So, we will not be scared to try out those as we know we will get results from it, whether good or bad,” said Powell.
Powell is also keen to get the likes of Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, JC Pretorius and Muller du Plessis to stretch their legs for the Blitzboks, having played fifteens for their respective provinces in the preceding months and missing the Germany trip.
“Yes, it is important for them to get a good run this weekend,” said Powell.
“They all trained well, but this will be a first tournament back for them, so it will be valuable just to get back onto the horse. This will not only give me an indication of where they are at the moment, but to the individuals themselves a proper and honest look on what they need to improve on.”
USA, Ireland, France, Nigeria and Jamaica are contesting the other pool.
South Africa fixtures are (SA times):
Friday 25 October:
15h00 v England
17h40: v Spain
20h40 Hong Kong
Saturday 26 October:
11h40 v Rambling Jesters
The Blitzbok squad is:
1. Chris Dry
2. Christi Grobbelaar
3. Dylan Sage (captain)
4. Zain Davids
5. Ryan Oosthuizen
6. JC Pretorius
7. Selvyn Davids
8. Rosko Specman
9. Justin Geduld
10. Kurt-Lee Arendse
11. Seabelo Senatla
12. Ruhan Nel
13. Muller du Plessis
Management: Neil Powell (coach), Hugh Everson (physiotherapist), Ashley Evert (manager), Marius Schoeman (High Performance Manager).