Johannesburg - Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu has called on his players to ensure that this weekend’s Las Vegas Sevens tournament is a “turning point” in their IRB Sevens campaign this year.
After poor performances in the first three tournaments, which ironically have seen quarter-final exits on all three occasions at the hands of Fiji, as well as three Plate final losses, the Blitsbokke sit shoddily in seventh place on the rankings in a season where they were supposed to defend the World Series title they won last year.
Still, Treu is not getting despondent, and admits that even though the side lost its magic from last year and are without gamebreakers such as Vuyo Zangqa, Robert Ebersohn and Gio Aplon, he is more than confident that his rebuilding phase will show progress soon.
However, Treu has apparently had some private chats to his senior players since Wellington, especially as a number of them performed below par in the tournament when they were supposed to be playing a leading role.
Also, the lack of pace off the bench has been a telling factor late in the game, and Treu will be hoping that more game time for the likes of Stephen Hunt and Branco du Preez will start to show in Sin City, which will host the tournament for the first time.
“Looking at Wellington, our game against New Zealand, even though we lost, was the highlight. When their captain and coach came to us afterwards and said it was the toughest game they had played in years, it was a great compliment,” Treu told Supersport.com.
“While we didn’t win it, the younger guys in the team realised that they aren’t better than us, we just need to refine our game a bit. We were camped out in New Zealand’s half for five and a half minutes straight in the one half, but we couldn’t finish our moves off.
“Against Fiji we were in their 22 metre area for six and a half minutes and couldn’t finish. We made a few bad decisions on attack and it cost us.”
Treu knows the task will be difficult in Las Vegas, especially as they are paired with Fiji in their pool and if they don’t win the pool, will face New Zealand in the quarters.
“In Wellington we did all the playing but couldn’t get the win. We are working hard on being more effective on attack. There are small adjustments we will be making, and hopefully it will pay off for us.
“It will be difficult, but that is where the senior players need to play a bigger sole. I am a bit worried about their form, especially as they are the leaders of the team, and have had a few one-on-ones with players to discuss this.
“Our defence was a lot better for most of the tournament and we were able to give a number of new players like Hoffmann Maritz and Steven Hunt some game time. This weekend though, it is imperative that we are at our best. We need to be firing on all cylinders when we get to the Hong Kong tournament. “
Treu and his team were given a pleasant surprise when they arrived to find they are staying at the brand new Hard Rock hotel in Vegas.
But given the reputation of Sin City, redemption is what this team needs more than anything at this moment.