Blitzbokke keen to bounce back
Port Elizabeth - The Springbok Sevens side admit they have underperformed in Australia and Dubai and are determined to bounce back to form in their home tournament at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, coach Paul Treu told a media briefing here on Monday.
Treu, team captain Kyle Brown, IRB Sevens Player of the Year Cecil Afrika and senior squad members Frankie Horne and Chase Minnaar spoke to the media at their team hotel in Nelson Mandela Bay, the new host city for the South Africa Sevens.
The 16 teams arrived on Sunday in the city on two evening flights from Dubai via Johannesburg and on Monday most of the squads either had outings to the nearby beach or chose to have a swim session in the hotel pool.
Treu was straightforward in his assessment of the team’s performances during the two previous Sevens World Series tournaments at the Gold Coast and Dubai. The Blitzbokke won the third match playoff two weeks ago in Brisbane but lost the Plate Final against Australia on Saturday in the desert city.
Treu said he realises his team is now under pressure to raise their game in front of their home fans.
“We are always under pressure to win and we approach every tournament with a winning attitude. We have left ourselves down by not playing to the standards we have set for ourselves,” said Treu.
He told his players to embrace the extra responsibility and expectation of the home supporters, something which his captain also referred to.
Brown said his team was definitely looking forward to enjoying themselves in their only home outing and to play for the very first time in the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Furthermore, Brown said most teams have now changed their approach to Sevens and that this was evident in the overall standard of play so far this season.
“You can see that teams such as Japan, Portugal and Russia have now switched on differently in terms of their approach. The teams are more professional and it makes it harder for everyone, which is good for the game.
“We are going to focus on how to harness the good vibe in the Bay so that, hopefully, it can help us when we play on Friday and Saturday. We only play once in front of our own fans and we owe it to them and to ourselves to raise our standard of play,” said the Blitzbokke skipper.
IRB Sevens player of the Year, Cecil Afrika, said he was fit and ready to play. “I’m good to go and hope to play to my part if selected. It is nice to have a few guys in the squad with Eastern Cape roots, like myself, Chase Minnaar and Steven Hunt.
Nothing beats the feeling of playing at home,” said the South African Sevens playmaker.
Afrika missed the Dubai leg due to a rib injury sustained in Australia. He recently recovered from two facial injuries.