Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell is keen to see his squad showing good form and early season promise this weekend in Namibia, where they will contest the Safland Sevens at The Dome in Swakopmund.
The Blitzboks open their 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series season with this warm-up tournament, where they will face, amongst others, the national teams of Germany, Namibia and Kenya when the tournament starts on Saturday.
“We want to get the show on the road now,” Powell said.
“This will be an important tournament, as you need proper match fitness for the season-opener in Dubai. Hopefully this tournament will see our structures tested and pushed to the limit.”
The coach travelled with a 14-man squad to this town on the Atlantic coastline, but lost Carel du Preez due to a hamstring strain during training on Thursday. The forward is also likely to miss a warm-up event planned for Goodwood in Cape Town next weekend.
“It is a pity for Carel as I wanted to give all the guys a proper run, so he is going to miss out now,” said Powell. “I told the players they must show me why I need to pick them for the opening two legs of the series, in Dubai and Cape Town.“I was hoping to play with two different teams, but with Carel out, will change my plans slightly. We want to get the guys switched on again and to make sure they find their rhythm and feet as soon as possible. We will get some tough opposition here and that will be a good test for us.
“Hopefully this will point to any weaknesses, if any in our structures and to the areas we still need to work on in the next two weeks at home. The players are keen and ready to get the season underway,” confirmed Powell.
The Blitzboks’ opening fixture on Saturday is at 12h00 against Germany, followed by clashes against the SA All Stars (at 13h20) and Namibia (at 16h00). The final pool match will be played against Kenya at 09h40 on Sunday morning, with the knock-out competition starting at 12h00 on the second day.
The national teams from Botswana and Namibia as well as the Namibian Academy team will also be in action, as will Living Legends and Eye of the Tiger (both from South Africa).