Dylan Sage: No need for Blitzboks to panic

2019-03-06 22:40
Dylan Sage
Dylan Sage (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - There is no reason for Springbok Sevens fans to panic, and it is just a matter of time before Neil Powell's side find their mojo again.

That's the view of former Springbok Sevens player Dylan Sage, who is now plying his trade in the 15-man code with the Bulls on the current malaise in the World Rugby Sevens Series champions' camp.

The seventh spot finish in Las Vegas not only was a disappointment for the Blitzboks, but it also raised questions on how the team could have gone from back-to-back series victories to the struggles they currently face.

But by losing the likes of Rosko Specman, Kwagga Smith, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel and Sage to fifteens, the core of the team has been ripped out over a season and the youngsters are struggling to adapt.

However, Sage has told he believes it is only a matter of time before the Blitzboks are back on track and while they may have blown the defence of their own title this season, he feels they should concentrate on getting an Olympic qualification spot - the reward for the teams finishing in the top four of this year's series.

"It's been tough for the guys, they have been up and down in a few of their results. I think the potential is there, but it is a tricky situation," Sage says.

"We've been lucky enough to have a good squad for the past four, five years where some teams have struggled to get that quality in for that squad that they want.

"Now they have the squad that they want and we are trying to get the squad that we want. It is that shoe is on the other foot, sort of thing. It will take a bit of time...

"They might get a few up and down results, but I back coach Neil, he knows what to do there. It will take a few tournaments and the guys might fall off a little bit, but the fans need to have a little bit of patience, the guys will come through hopefully towards the latter end of the season."

Sage points out that the errors are high-penalty counts and some missed tackles at crucial times, but feels it is something that is coachable and can be fixed with time.

"It's not train-wreck stuff, it is tough to bring in a few new guys into a system with guys leaving so its that fine balance now, and getting the guys to gel together and work towards a common goal."

He does believe that the movement of players out of the squad has created an imbalance that will be rectified over time.

"Everyone has their own goals, some guys want to stay around as long as possible and some want to play fifteens. So you are always going to have guys leaving and coming in. It is a tricky balance and unfortunately you can't retain everybody.

"Everyone would love to retain their squads for years on end and unfortunately it doesn't work like that. I think New Zealand had it two or three seasons ago and we are having it now. It's that fine balance and you will always have a little bit of a dip before you come up again and we can't expect those performances every year - first, first first.

"We have been lucky in the past as well, but I think now patience and building up again for 2020 and the Olympics is a big thing."

The Blitzboks will face another round of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Vancouver this weekend where they will hope to bounce back after the disappointment of Las Vegas.

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