Blitzbokke banking on Africa

2011-12-08 14:04
Cecil Afrika (Gallo)

Port Elizabeth - Coach Paul Treu, despite downplaying the fact, will be hoping Cecil Afrika provides the spark necessary for South Africa to win a second IRB Sevens World Series title on home soil this weekend.

The Blitzbokke will be the headline act in the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens starting in Port Elizabeth on Friday, but along with that honour comes the weight of expectation.

Treu admitted the squad had been below par in the opening two legs of this season's series in Gold Coast, where they finished third in the cup, and Dubai where they lost to the Australians in the plate final.

"We have let ourselves down by not playing to the standards the side is capable of," Treu said.

"We are now under pressure to raise the level of our performance in front of home supporters."

Treu's star playmaker, Afrika, was pronounced fit to play this week after recovering from a rib injury sustained in the opening leg in Australia three weeks ago.

The coach, however, was not placing any undue pressure on the IRB Sevens World Player of the Year.

"Expecting Cecil to go out there and make the difference is not fair," Treu said.

"Sevens is a team game and that's how we approach every game - as a team. It is great to have him back though."

The Blitzbokke, chasing a second victory at home after winning in George in 2008, open their campaign against Canada on Friday afternoon, followed by two more Pool C matches against Kenya and Australia later in the day.

The South Africans will still be hurting after losing to Australia in Dubai last week and will look to hit back.

Series title holders New Zealand pose one of the bigger threats to South Africa's crusade.

The All Blacks were off-colour in Dubai, suffering three consecutive defeats, including a loss to South Africa.

But they will take comfort in the fact that they have won nine of the last 12 events.

They are also chasing a hat-trick of titles in South Africa after back-to-back triumphs in George in 2009 and 2010.

The New Zealanders are in Pool B with France, Scotland and Morocco.

England, who beat a resurgent France 29-12 in the Dubai final, find themselves in Pool A with Samoa, Argentina and the United States.

This season's series leaders, Fiji, are up against Wales, Portugal and Zimbabwe in Pool D.

Read more on:    irb sevens  |  paul treu

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