Blitzboks make fresh start in Dubai

The Blitzboks are taking on Samoa, Canada and New Zealand today. Read more about the team's preparation for this weekend, and their previous success in Dubai.

Philip Snyman says the Blitzboks’ excellent record in Dubai is something they can be very proud of, but it is now time for a new book and the first chapter starts at The Sevens Stadium on Saturday.

Snyman, who experienced many of those golden moments as a player and captain, said as with the highs of previous years, the lows of the more recent past must also be seen as a closed book.

The Blitzboks are 10-time champions of the desert, but are going into the series-opening tournament looking to improve on their underwhelming 2023 season.

“It is important to learn from past mistakes, but I would like to think that we closed that chapter and book,” said Snyman, who is caretaker coach in Dubai after head coach Sandile Ngcobo remained in South Africa on medical advice after an Achilles injury.

“This is a fresh start and one Sandile and I are very excited about. We have a good squad assembled with a lot of proven players, but also a nice addition of youth and new faces. So, although the team is in a bit of a transitional phase early in the season, it is an exciting one and I can’t wait to see us play this weekend.”

Snyman said the belief in their defensive structure and the ability of the playmakers will pose problems for their opponents this weekend: “We know that if we keep to our structures on defence and make our tackles, teams are not going to score easy points against us, while on attack, we have some very good players with ball in hand.”

The Blitzbok assistant coach said there is no real benefit in looking too far ahead and the top eight qualifying spots at the end of the SVNS.

“Our focus will be the here and now and that very first game against Samoa – we need to lay down a marker that will not only set the tone for the weekend, but our ambitions for the series,” said Snyman.

“We believe that if we consistently reach semi-finals during the series, we will be where we want to be at the end of it, so to start well is important. And that starts with the opener against Samoa, who have won four of the last five times we played.”

Amongst those proven gamebreakers at the tournament, Selvyn Davids stands tall. The new Springboks Sevens captain said the fact that they arrived in Dubai with a full complement of experienced players will boost their chances.

“It has been quite a while since we had almost 95% of our squad fit and keen to play,” said Davids.

“That is a massive boost to our confidence and ability, because we know what we are capable of. Add a very good pre-season and some solid sessions here in Dubai and I can honestly say that we are as ready as we can be.”

Davids also does not want to dwell on last season’s performances, but said it does motivate them.

“We stuffed it up, so we need to fix it again and that can be done, I am convinced of it,” the Blitzbok playmaker said.

“We have a very strong pool to contend with, but the reality of the series is that, with only 12 teams, there will be no easy ones. So, you need to show up and deliver from the start, there can be no hiccups.”

Davids would like to see a strong start against Samoa: “They are very physical and play very well as a team. But we prepared accordingly, and I know that if we play our own game well and execute, we will be on the right side of the results we are looking for.

Blitzboks’ Pool A fixtures (SA times):
08h50: Samoa
12h58: Canada
18h44: New Zealand

Head-to-head:
Samoa: SA won 54, lost 26, drawn 5; average score 18-14
Canada: SA won 57, lost 6; average score 27-9
New Zealand: SA won 36, lost 62; average score: 15-19

The Springbok Sevens squad for Dubai:
Forwards:
Christie Grobbelaar – 17 tournaments, 150 points (30 tries)
Ryan Oosthuizen – 43 tournaments, 200 points (40 tries)
Impi Visser – 32 tournaments, 155 points (31 tries)
Zain Davids – 40 tournaments, 185 points (37 tries)
Katlego Letebele – uncapped
Masande Mtshali – 5 tournaments, 0 points
Backs:
Ronald Brown – 13 tournaments, 338 points (34 tries, 84 conversions)
Selvyn Davids (captain) – 29 tournaments, 586 points (73 tries, 109 conversions, 1 penalty goal)
Dewald Human – 22 tournaments, 245 points (21 tries, 70 conversions)
Justin Geduld – 54 tournaments, 1077 points (116 tries, 247 conversions, 1 penalty goal)
Shilton van Wyk – 13 tournaments, 135 points (27 tries)
Rosko Specman – 30 tournaments, 416 points (76 tries, 18 conversions
Quewin Nortje – uncapped

Read original story on www.sarugbymag.co.za

 
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