Sevens

Shift in focus did it for us - Powell

2017-02-05 18:28
Neil Powell (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Blitzbok coach, Neil Powell, on Sunday said he is super proud of his squad after the Blitzboks won the HSBC Sydney Sevens. This win comes a week after the team won the New Zealand leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Wellington.

The win, their third in four finals in this series, was secured by beating England in the final 29-14.

Yesterday, in their final pool match in the Allianz Stadium in Sydney, England pipped the Springboks, winning 21-15.

"I am very happy with the performance today, especially the way we turned it around from yesterday. I was a bit worried after yesterday, as we did not play well, but now I am very pleased and proud," Powell smiled. "It was also pleasing beating England the way we did in the final."

Powell said the needed to shift their focus when playing against England, the only team to defeat the Blitzboks twice this year.

"Yes, our two defeats this year came against England, but this time our focus was right. We decided to focus on what we need to do and not so much on what we expect England to do. We decided what we wanted out of the game and the guys kept their focus. We controlled the game from the first minute to the last and that is very pleasing," Powell revealed.

The back-to-back wins, the first time a Springbok Sevens team could manage this in Australasia, is a real feather in the cap for the squad, the coach said.

"It is always going to be special to win the double. Not many teams have achieved that, so it feels good. Another pleasing aspect for me is the fact that we are winning finals. Last year we only won one of four and so far three of four. We wanted to make a mind shift there and it seems to work at the moment."

Powell said good management of players and the introduction of new ones will be high on the agenda. The coach need to replace Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla, who are joining the Lions and Stormers for the Vodacom Super Rugby competition respectively.

"We need to find replacements for Kwagga and Seabelo and will get some youngsters in. In three weeks’ time we will be in Las Vegas already, so we will have to manage the guys well in the next couple of weeks."

He points to the structures and systems in the squad to help them keep on achieving.

"It had to be a team effort and the whole squad contributed. That is important in our culture, that now one is more important than the other, but that we need to work together for each other. Everyone has a role to play and to make a contribution and we needed a good system effort. Nothing will change with regards to that."

Powell knows challenges awaits in the next six tournaments.

"We will now be looking for consistency for the remainder of the series, because if we want to win it, we will need to be consistent," he said."

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