Blitzboks to bring early Xmas cheer
Cape Town - Home ground advantage and a team at their peak, that’s the equation for the Blitzboks heading into the Cape Town Sevens
Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, the All Blacks, the Australian cricket team of the 90s and now the Blitzboks - sports teams that strike fear into opposition and always start as overwhelming favourites.
The Blitzboks have now entrenched themselves as the team to beat with every pool fixture a proverbial cup final for their opponents. The South Africans start this week as defending series champions, but not Cape Town champions after being shocked by England in the final last year.
In the buildup this week, the likes of Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to curb the nation’s expectations but in reality, they will know just as the average fan walking into Green Point Stadium this week that anything but the title will be a failure.
This side has come into their own in the last 12 months but it’s been a slow process with many bumps and hurdles along the way even if right now it might be hard to point to even one. The team has a wealth of experience with Chris Dry and Philip Snyman complementing the star attacking duo Africa and Du Preez.
Only four players have scored 200 tries but by the time the final whistle goes in the last game of the first day (SA vs Kenya kicks off at 19:56) there will be a fifth with Seabelo Senatla just four shy of that mark. While he insists that the XV-man game remains his number one priority, he continues to churn out special performances in this code as he plays his way into the greats of the game.
A win in Cape Town will be the start of a big year for Snyman's team with the Sevens World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in 2018 looming in the distance. Everything they do from here on out will be part of that puzzle as the look to claim gold after their Olympic bronze in 2016.
At 7/10, it is clear that the bookies are also throwing their ‘support’ behind the locals this week. If you are looking for something outside of that, then England to retain their Cape Town title at 10.25 looks like an extremely good prospect.