Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - The Springbok Sevens side are confident of surprising a number of people as they head into the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens here Friday.
Coach Paul Treu has been honest in his assessment on how the team was surprised in the semi-finals by a Fijian onslaught last week, something that left Treu and the team disappointed in their own performance and determined to right the wrongs of the Gold Coast.
It wasn’t as if the team played badly in the opening round of the HSBC World Sevens series, but more the fact that they let themselves down in terms of their own team standards that has caused the rethink ahead of the desert tournament.
Now, faced with a tough pool with defending World Series champs New Zealand and tricky encounters against USA and Portugal, the Blitzbokke know all too well they will need to be at their best from the start if they are to make an impression on the tournament.
There have been setbacks - Cecil Afrika’s continued absence seems more to be part of long term viability than short term success - but they have at least got Branco du Preez back this week to bolster them and give them a bit more shape on attack.
While Treu has reiterated that it is just one team at a time, one match to focus on at a time, there is no doubt that winning this group would hold certain advantages - especially when it comes to missing out on Fiji in the semis, a fate which the runners-up will get.
But it is more than that. This tournament is about the team getting its shape back, confidence and lifting its own standards as they want to make an impression ahead of their home tournament next week in Port Elizabeth.
“We are very comfortable here in Dubai, it is like a second home for us,” Treu admits, “We have won this tournament three times in the past decade and we like it here.
“We certainly have looked at the loss against Fiji, which disappointed us with the way we allowed them to surprise us. But we’ve worked on those things and we are confident we have sorted them out. We will be much better this week.”
The Blitzbokke know all too well how difficult their group is, and wont be taking anything for granted.
“Portugal is improving all the time and last season they caused some notable upsets, while the USA made it really difficult for us last week and I have no doubt they will by very motivated when we face each again. New Zealand will be determined to strike back after losing to Fiji in the Gold Coast final,” Treu added.
With this in mind, there will be added determination to start on a good note in the dessert. The team know they can set the tone with their own performances. Against Portugal in game one will be the perfect time to start.
The day one fixtures for SA (SA times) are:
09h10: SA vs Portugal
12h54: SA vs United States
17h30: SA vs New Zealand
The South African squad for round two of the Sevens World Series in Dubai:
1. Chris Dry
2. Chase Minnaar
3. Frankie Horne
4. Boom Prinsloo
5. Robert Ebersohn
6. Kyle Brown (captain)
7. Renfred Dazel
8. Bernado Botha
9. Paul Delport
10. Branco du Preez
11. Mark Richards
12. William Small-Smith