Sevens

Blitzboks hit the ground running in Paris

2017-05-09 12:55
Branco du Preez (Gallo Images)

Paris - The Springbok Sevens team has travelled well, arriving in good spirits and in time for a birthday celebration for Branco du Preez in the French capital, but the focus will now move to a solid performance in this weekend's Paris Sevens, to be played in the Stade Jean Bouin (May 13/14).

The team started training for the ninth leg of the overall World Rugby Sevens tournament in all earnest on Tuesday and according to the experienced Du Preez, are keen to get on the field and express themselves.

The (now) 27-year-old sweeper has been in good form this season, scoring 152 points so far and managed to become only the second Blitzboks player to score 1 000 career points in the World Series.

"We travelled well and with the time difference the same, it was an easy flight from Cape Town to London and then into Paris. I was fortunate enough to have a little cake on my birthday last night, but we will now focus on the tournament," he said.

Du Preez missed out on last year's event in Paris, so is keen to mark his mark this time around.

"I have not played here before, so it is exciting for me, but the focus will be on contributing to the team first, rather than going at it yourself," said Du Preez, who has played in 53 tournaments now, fourth on the all-time Blitzboks list.

"I would like to go out and enjoy myself and to make sure that every contribution I make is a positive one. Consistency will be the key for us and that starts against Scotland. We certainly have a plan for them, so the challenge for us will be in the execution of that."

Team-mate, Dylan Sage, also pointed to the Scots as the main focus for them.

"We are aware of what happened last year. We had a good day one, but then lost to Samoa in the Cup quarters on day two and they went on to win the tournament. We have seen, with the likes of Kenya, Scotland and recently Canada, that any team can deliver on the day and win the tournament. There are no easy games out there," Sage said.

"We are in a good space at the moment. We travelled well, have good momentum from the season and are looking to finish the season well.”

Sage has played in all eight tournaments and is proving a real stalwart, mixing it up between backs and forwards. He has scored ten tries and is closing in on 50 matches for the season, which points to his telling involvement in the squad this year.

"We should not overthink it, stay in the right mental space and get the job done on Saturday. We have prepared well and if we stick to our plans and trust the processes, we will do well," he said.

The World Series has visiting Paris on four occasions over the years.

South Africa won in the 2006 season, lost in the final in 2000 and won the Plate Final in 2005 and 2016.

South Africa play against Scotland (11:28), Japan (14:54) and Canada (18:42) in Pool A on Saturday.

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