Philip Snyman took the Blitzboks all the way to the final of the HSBC Wellington Sevens when he debuted as Springbok Sevens captain last year and is keen to help get the side over the line first in 2017.
Snyman shared the captaincy with Kyle Brown in the previous HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, captaining the side in four of the ten tournaments, but has since taken over the captain’s armband permanently, with Brown deciding the step down from the role.
“It is hard to believe it is that time of the year already and that the Wellington tournament is about to kick off,” Snyman said on Thursday.
“We don’t have Kyle and Cecil Afrika here this time, due to injuries, and we have lost a lot of experience because of that. But I am pretty excited about the new guys who came in and we are keen to give it another go to try and win the tournament. We trained well this week and will be ready, come Saturday and the first match against Japan.”
Snyman said that the Blitzboks adapted quickly to the 11-hour time difference between South Africa and New Zealand.
“It is hard to change around 11 hours as it is night and day, but we had some good sessions,” said Snyman.
“Our attack looked sharp on Tuesday and the defence session we had today also had a good edge to it, so I am pretty pleased with the squad’s mind-sets at the moment.”
The Blitzboks face Japan, Australia and Fiji on Saturday in a tough Pool B, but Snyman is adamant that the team will embrace those challenges.
“Yes, that is a tough pool and we face three very good sides on Saturday, but we are ready to take them on,” said Snyman.
“We have to get past Japan first, so we are putting a lot of focus on that. We need to start well and build momentum towards day two. The foundation of our quest to win here will be laid on the first day and the first match, so we must start well.”
Zain Davids and Siviwe Soyizwapi will debut in Wellington, with the former also taking the field in the Blitzbok jersey for the first time.
• The Springbok Sevens team has won the Wellington tournament only once, in 2002. Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was part of that squad.
• Seabelo Senatla (172 tries) is seven tries short of the all-time try-scoring record of Fabian Juries (179), while Branco du Preez (922 career points) could also move past Juries (925 points) on the all-time scoring list. Du Preez will also pass Cecil Afrika in the number of tournaments played.
Springbok Sevens Top Scorers
1. Cecil Afrika, 1167 points (47 tournaments)
2. Fabian Juries, 925 (44 tournaments)
3. Branco du Preez, 922 (47 tournaments)
4. Seabelo Senatla, 860 points (31 tournaments)
5. Mzwandile Stick, 855 points (37 tournaments)
Most tournament appearances
1. Frankie Horne, 68 tournaments
2. Kyle Brown, 57
3. Chris Dry, 54
4. Cecil Afrika, 47
5. Branco du Preez, 47
Most points scored in one match
Andries Fourie 31 (v Malaysia in Tokyo 2000, SA won 84-0)