Vancouver - Springbok Sevens speedster Rosko Specman is adamant that the Blitzboks are far from the complete package, despite their good performances so far in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
The South Africans have secured titles in four of the five tournaments and won 28 out of 30 matches, leading into the sixth event of the world wide spectacle, the Vancouver Sevens, to be played at BC Place this weekend (March 11 and 12).
“We will never be satisfied, there is always room for improvement, even if it is just one percent,” said Specman, who was named Player of the Final in last weekend's tournament in Las Vegas.
“We were not at our best in Las Vegas, despite the fact that we won the tournament. We made a number of errors and our one on-one defence was not ideal, so we have a lot to work on this week.
“The individual performances come from a team effort and that is where our strength lies at the moment, I believe. We are playing for each other and really work hard to support each other. That structure and system allows the individuals to perform.”
The conditions in Vancouver, where the Blitzboks were experiencing some snow and cold, is far removed from the heat in Stellenbosch, but according to Specman, that does not matter.
The Blitzboks will face Chile, Kenya and England on Day 1 of the tournament on Saturday.
“Our hands might be cold, but our hearts are warm because we are together as a squad. Also, there is always some good coffee available in Philip Snyman’s room,” he quipped.
“Also, the arrival of Sandile Ngcobo brought some nice energy to us, so we are keen to get back to the hard yards.”
Ngcobo joined the squad in Canada as the official replacement player after Justin Geduld was injured in Las Vegas. Stedman Gans, who was the replacement in Vegas, has slotted into Geduld’s place and is pretty keen to run out in Blitzboks colours in Canada.
“This is a massive opportunity for me. I am here to learn, but also to do my best when I do get the chance,” said Gans, who represented the Junior Springboks last year.
Gans was on the bench for the final two matches of the tournament and although he did not take to the field, feels that he benefitted from the experience.
“Your whole focus changes if you know there is a chance that you can play, so it was exciting, although I did not take to the field. There were butterflies, but also positive nervous energy,” explained Gans, a former head boy of Waterkloof High School in Pretoria.
“My goals have not changed from last week. I still wanted to end this trip a better sevens player than when I left South Africa, so the fact that I might actually be playing is a nice bonus.
“It is almost unreal that I watched guys such as Cecil Africa, Branco du Preez and Rosko on TV all the time and now I am touring with them, with the possibility of actually playing in a tournament with them. They are very supportive and have all the experience, and they don't mind sharing that with me.”
South Africa will kick off their Vancouver campaign against Chile at 21:18 (SA time) on Saturday evening, while their next two matches are early on Sunday morning (SA time), against Kenya (00:54) and England (04:34).
The Springbok Sevens squad for the Vancouver Sevens (with caps and points):
1. Chris Dry (57, 415)
2. Philip Snyman (captain, 42, 246)
3. Dylan Sage (12, 60)
4. Zain Davids (3, 0)
5. Werner Kok (24, 285)
6. Siviwe Soyizwapi (8, 65)
7. Branco du Preez (50, 976)
8. Stephan Dippenaar (31, 210)
9. Stedman Gans (1,0)
10. Cecil Afrika (48, 1183)
11. Rosko Specman (18, 228)
12. Ruhan Nel (16, 155)
13. Sandile Ngcobo* (2, 10)