Thunder road for Blitzbokke
Johannesburg - New Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has had a rocky start to his tenure as coach, with wild weather hampering his team’s departure to Australia for the Gold Coast Sevens.
According to the supersport.com website, Powell and the team departed Cape Town on Monday en route to the Gold Coast to take part in this weekend’s tournament – his first in charge since taking over from Paul Treu at the helm of the Bok Sevens team.
But some massive thunderstorms in Johannesburg meant the team could not land at OR Tambo airport, were forced to touch down at the Waterkloof Air Force base and eventually only made it to their destination after the flight to Sydney had left.
Now with the ensuing chaos and a number of passengers missing their flights, the team can only depart for Australia on Wednesday night, meaning a Thursday evening arrival in the Gold Coast - with the tournament starting on Saturday.
While it is less than ideal for the team, Sevens manager Sebastian Prim confirmed to supersport.com that the team would continue their preparations in Johannesburg and finalise them before departing for Australia.
Once they arrive, as Prim puts it, “they will need to be ready to play” as there isn’t enough time to still prepare at that juncture.
The Sevens team were looking to leave a bit later – the Monday departure already later than the weekend departure in recent times, and with so many changes in the international Sevens fold, and a host of new coaches taking charge of the top teams, Powell will have his work cut out for him.
The new coach doesn’t seem too phased about the changes, and believes his team is built for the speedy pitch this weekend and should give a good account for themselves.
Powell has said he hasn’t made too many changes from the way the team played at the recent Rugby World Cup.
“We all agreed that the team played a great brand of rugby there, and we wanted to continue that. We have made a few minor adjustments but for the most part we have kept things the same,” he told supersport.com.
“The players are very comfortable with the way they play and there is a great excitement in the camp. We’re hopeful that we can do well at the Gold Coast.”
With Seabelo Senatla missing out on the tournament through injury, the speedster role goes to Sampie Mastriet, who has shown his speed when he needs to.
“Sampie is exactly the type of guy we need, we know how fast the pitch is there, and how deadly speed can be, so hopefully he will have a good chance to show his skills when he gets the ball.”
South Africa have a tough pool with England, France and Spain in their line-up. England are now coached by their former Sevens captain Simon Amor.