Blitzbokke in buoyant mood

2014-12-11 20:17
Kyle Brown (Gallo Images)

Port Elizabeth - Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown wasn’t being arrogant at all when he said at a pre-tournament press briefing in Port Elizabeth on Thursday that the biggest obstacle to his team doing well in the third leg of the World Series at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens was themselves.

According to the website, anyone who saw the Blitzbokke play in Dubai last week, where they won the tournament with a dominant second day performance in which they conceded only one try, would agree that it is hard to imagine them making an improvement on that performance at the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens.

However, Brown hasn’t forgotten the way his team struggled on the first day in Dubai, and knows there is potential for them to conspire against themselves.

"The biggest obstacle to us doing well in this tournament is ourselves," said Brown.

"We saw last week what we could do and what we are capable of.

"We are the only people who can stop that. It has been mentioned that there was a big change evident from day one to day two of the tournament in Dubai, and that perception is correct.

"But it wasn’t as if we went out on the second day and just decided that because we were playing Argentina in the quarter-finals it was time to fire.

"We made the change from within, by having a good hard look at ourselves, assessing where we were going wrong on the first day, and putting it right.

"We lifted ourselves on day two, we had hunger in our eyes, and a clear vision of what we had to do.

"We got the result. We need to maintain that focus at the weekend."

Brown admitted that the South Africans may have been caught a bit off-guard by Wales in the pool phase last week.

That was the one disturbing performance from the Blitzbokke, with the Welsh pushing them all the way and being on the attack at the end of a game where Brown’s team sneaked home just 12-5.

"That game should be a learning experience for us in that what we did was fail to take into account where Wales were standing and what was in the game for them.

"They had already lost a game to Canada, and were under pressure to stay in the tournament.

"They had to lose by less than a certain score to proceed to the next round.

"So they came out firing on all cylinders.

"It was like a final to them, which it wasn’t to us, and we were a bit taken aback by the intensity.

"That is something we will have to keep in mind ahead of future first round matches.

"You always need to be aware of what your opponent might be chasing and what is in the game for them.

"We were nearly caught out by the Welsh and we have learned from it.”

Wales are in the South African group again for the home leg, and coach Neil Powell has made it clear that there will be no element of surprise this time.

"We have USA, Kenya and Wales, and as in every other tournament we will approach it one at a time.

"They have a good coach and we expect a physical battle against them. Kenya are also always up for us as they are also from Africa, and we know the Welsh will be up for us again,” said Powell.

The same 12 that did duty were unsurprisingly retained for the Port Elizabeth tournament, with the form players from last week all getting a chance to continue with their momentum.

That includes Seabelo Senatla, who has scored 12 tries in the two tournaments so far, as well as Cecil Afrika, who with 914 career points is set to overtake Fabian Juries (925) as the all time highest accumulative points scorer for the Blitzbokke.

Frankie Horne, who led the team at the start in all the games last week as Brown continues to ease himself back from an injury lay-off, extends his record number of HSBC Sevens World Series appearances to 62.

The Sevens Boks are the defending Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens champions.

Springbok Sevens team: Ruhan Nel, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Rayno Benjamin, Warrick Gelant, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Cheslin Kolbe.


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