Blitzbokke ready for Oz event
Cape Town - Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu said in reaction to the announcement of the HSBC Sevens World Series draw that his team is looking forward to playing at the brand new venue in Australia.
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South Africa will play hosts, Australia, Japan and USA on the first day of the opening Round of the Sevens World Series on Australia’s Gold Coast, the International Rugby Board announced on Monday.
“Traditionally, we have played well in Australia when the tournament was staged in Adelaide where the firm underfoot conditions and the climate suited our style of play. The Gold Coast will be a new challenge for everyone, so we are looking forward to experience a new atmosphere and surroundings.
“With the new format of three opening Rounds instead of the usual two, our focus will be to make a steady start and not to concentrate on things beyond the opening Round,” explained Treu.
The full Blitzbokke squad got together for the first time last week in Stellenbosch. “Our preparations are on course and we are working hard to get the players ready for a tough three-week period,” added the SA Sevens coach.
The first ever World Series pool draw was carried out in London, the venue for the climax of the Series in May next year. The Gold Coast tournament takes place on 25-26 November at Skilled Park.
As defending World Series champions, New Zealand were automatically seeded first and placed top of Pool A for the opening round on the Gold Coast, while last season's runners-up South Africa were seeded second and placed top of Pool B.
From the remaining teams in the top band of eight, Samoa and England were drawn into Pools C and D respectively. Fiji, hosts Australia, Argentina and Wales were then drawn into Pools A, B, C and D respectively, meaning that New Zealand will face Fiji and Australia will take on South Africa in two of the most eye-catching matches on the first day of the new season.
The second band of teams drawn comprised the nations ranked from ninth to twelfth last season - Kenya, France, Scotland and USA - while the third band of teams was made up of the four regional qualifiers for the event - Japan, Tonga, PNG and Niue. In future, the pool draw for each Round of the Sevens World Series will take place live on television before the Cup final at the preceding event.
Treu will name his travelling squad of twelve for the opening two Rounds this coming Friday.