Commonwealth Games

SA Sevens aiming for gold

2014-07-25 17:00
Werner Kok (AFP)
Cape Town - SA Sevens speedster Werner Kok says the team will be aiming to secure the country’s first Commonwealth Games gold medal in Glasgow, Scotland this weekend.

Rugby Sevens kicks off at the prestige event on Saturday, with the finals being played on Sunday.

New Zealand have dominated in the past, claiming all four gold medals since the code’s introduction to the Commonwealth Games in 1998. Since then, South Africa have only won two bronze medals, which happened in 2002 in Manchester, England and 2010 in Delhi, India.

However, Kok said this year’s team will be aiming for a higher finish.

“We’ll definitely be aiming for gold,” Kok told the MyPlayers website. “We’ve had a nice break after a long and challenging Sevens World Series season, so the players returned refreshed. Our preparations went well. The team is in a good mood going into the tournament.

“The biggest challenge of the Commonwealth Games is the fact that this is a once-off. There are no second chances. You only have one opportunity to claim top spot, so we need to make sure we remained focused and play to our full potential.”

The South African team did suffer late player withdrawals shortly before the tournament.

Springbok duo Schalk Brits and Bryan Habana were named in the original squad, but they were forced to withdraw because of foreign club policies. Stormers wing Cheslin Kolbe is also unavailable because of a knee injury.

The Blitzbokke still boast the likes of Springbok wing Cornal Hendricks and Lions No 8 Warren Whiteley. Sevens star Cecil Afrika also makes his return to the national team after a long injury layoff. Kok believes they will add plenty of value.

“We’re glad to have the likes of Cornal in the squad,” said Kok. “He’s being doing very well in the 15-man game, and we’re very proud of him.

“Although we don’t have Bryan available, he still spent some time with us during our training
in Stellenbosch. It was nice to learn from a South African legend, and he added some fresh ideas to our structures.”

The SA Sevens side faces Kenya, the Cook Islands and Trinidad and Tobago in Pool B on Saturday.

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