Sevens

Blitzbokke assess injured

2014-04-01 18:34
Neil Powell (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens returned to South Africa from the Far East on Tuesday and immediately underwent their routine medical check-ups at their base camp in Stellenbosch.

The squad who did duty in Tokyo and Hong Kong now have a break and will resume training along with the rest of the training group on 14 April.

South Africa narrowly held on to beat Wales 19-14 in the Hong Kong Sevens Plate Final on Sunday afternoon thanks to two tries by Jamba Ulengo.

They collected 13 valuable log points in the process and are currently placed second on the HSBC Sevens World Series standings, seven points behind Hong Kong Cup winners New Zealand.

Only two more rounds remains in Glasgow and London before the season ends next month.

The Springbok Sevens displayed huge courage to defeat Wales after they had suffered four injuries prior to the Plate final.

Captain Kyle Brown saw only two minutes of action during the three-day tournament after taking a blow to the head against France.

Cecil Afrika (groin strain), Phillip Snyman (sore neck) and Branco du Preez (cheek) did not play in the Plate final due to their respective niggles. Initial indications are that following treatment, all of them should be available for selection for next month’s last two HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in Glasgow (3-4 May) and London (10-11 May).

South Africa lost to England in the Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, thus bringing to an end their fine record of qualifying for each of the World Series semifinals so far this season.

Prior to Hong Kong the Blitzboks featured in five consecutive Cup finals under the guidance of new coach, Neil Powell, a former Springbok Sevens captain, in his first season at the helm.

Despite collecting only 13 points and the injuries to several key players, Powell remains positive and believes his charges are still in with a chance to challenge New Zealand for the World Series crown.

“It was important for us to win the Plate final," said Powell.

"We knew when we lost against England in the quarterfinals that we needed to win the Plate to get as many points as possible on the Series log."

"We know exactly what is expected of us in the two remaining tournaments.

"It will not be easy, but we must believe that it is still possible so we will remain positive," Powell added.

"There are still two tournament titles to play for and that is a huge motivating factor for us."

Apart from the medicals, the players will be given a few days off to recuperate from the tough three-week tour to the Far East before resuming their preparations next week in Stellenbosch.

Meanwhile, the South Africans were handed a tough draw for the Glasgow Sevens on May 3 and 4, with the team being drawn in Pool A with log-leaders New Zealand, Samoa and Portugal.

Given the intense rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand and the tight battle for the World Series title this season, the match is expected to be one of the main attractions in the pool stages.

Hong Kong runners-up England head Pool B and will play matches on day-one in Glasgow against Canada, France and the newly-promoted Japan.

Fiji face Wales, Argentina and Kenya in Pool C and Australia will face the USA, tournament hosts Scotland, and Spain in Pool D.

The current World Series standings after 7 rounds:
1. New Zealand- 136 points
2. South Africa- 129
3. Fiji - 112
4. England - 104
5. Australia - 87

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