Sevens

Long-haul journey not an issue for Blitzboks

2019-02-25 13:21
Philip Snyman (Getty)

Cape Town - The 40-hour trip to Las Vegas has not impacted on the Blitzboks’ performances at the Las Vegas Sevens in the past, and there is no reason why it should be different this time around, believes Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman.

Recent displays by the Blitzboks at the event - hosted at the Sam Boyd Stadium - indicates that the team has done well, and they will look to make their presence felt once again in what marks the fifth tournament of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

“Las Vegas has been good to us in the past, and we have developed a liking for the Sam Boyd Stadium,” Snyman said of the venue where the team has won four times in the last eight years.

“We have a couple of new faces in the team, so we need to adapt to that. They bring different strengths to the system, and we need to tap into that.”

Four players are in Nevada for the first time, namely Impi Visser, Mfundo Ndhlovu, JC Pretorius and Sako Makata, and they are all looking forward to the event.

The trip is the longest of the ten stops for the Stellenbosch-based side on the World Rugby Sevens Series, and for the only debutant on tour, Makata, it is one filled with anticipation.

The 20-year-old had his first training session with the team upon arrival, and was handed his Blitzboks training jersey in a traditional hand-over ceremony for newcomers.

Four-time Las Vegas Sevens winner, Branco du Preez, did the hand-over, while wishing the newcomer well.

For Makata, waiting for this opportunity has been well worth it, he said with a smile.

“I have worked hard to get to this point,” Makata said. “Playing in the SA Rugby Academy team in tournaments in Dubai and South America made me realise that I want this very badly. Now I am here and I need to make the best of this wonderful opportunity.”

The former Sterling High School pupil is keen to get going come Saturday, when the Blitzboks take on Japan, Chile and England in their pool.

“I have a role in the team and I know what is expected of me,” Makata said. “The reward for me will be to justify the confidence the coach has shown in me by contributing to the team effort.”

Ndhlovu was equally pleased to be on the trip.

The winger, who was named the Sharks under-21 Player of the Year last season, was injured prior to the team’s departure to Hamilton and Sydney, but with his hamstring issues now over, he gets another opportunity to add to the caps he picked up in Hong Kong and Paris in 2018.

Ndhlovu feels that the development of his game in the SA Rugby Sevens Academy was vital in his step-up into the big league.

“The experience is invaluable as it gives you a good taste of what Sevens is about,” Ndhlovu said. “The attention to detail is also important because it teaches one a lot of small aspects that are essential to be successful as a Blitzbok. I am pretty pleased to have made it on this trip, and I can't wait to go out and play.

“My aim is to contribute and to make sure the guys can count on me when they need me.”

 

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