Cape Town - The finishing line is in Paris in June and the Blitzboks are leading the race to 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series glory, but they are not looking that far ahead and their only aim is perform to their ability this weekend in Singapore.
That was the commitment from the versatile and experienced Blitzbok, Dylan Sage, who confirmed that their only focus at the moment is their opening match against Samoa on Saturday. If they do that and “follow the process”, the result will look after itself, Sage insists.
Apart from Samoa, the South Africans will also face Canada and Argentina in Pool C of the tournament, the eighth of 10 in the series. They lead Fiji by three points on the overall series log.
“This is without doubt a very competitive series and teams such as Fiji and New Zealand are playing fantastic sevens at the moment,” said Sage.
“We cannot look at them though, we have our own plans and focus in place. We have been successful when we focus on what we need to do and we will try and do so again this time around.”
Sage has been in good form in recent weeks and was part of the Dream Team in Vancouver last month, where he impressed with his try-scoring ability and defence. He was amongst the top five players in tackles made and off-loads, while he also scored a match-winning try against Australia in the quarter-finals of that event.
Another Blitzbok who did well on the performance tracker in Hong Kong, was Stedman Gans. The 21-year-old made 21 tackles, second only to Australia's Dylan Pletsch (25), made the second most carries (20), one less than team mate Selvyn Davids, and made the top 10 list in line-breaks and try-scoring, dotting down five times.
“Playing in Hong Kong was about an opportunity for many of us,” said Gans.
“All of us have played in someone's shadow in our careers, even a Cecil Afrika did. The Hong Kong guys played with a lot of energy because we knew we had the opportunity to impress the coach.
“This is another such an opportunity. What happened in Hong Kong is a thing of the past, we now need to embrace what Singapore presents. Sevens is all about the learning curve and I am very keen to get going. The focus is on performing to the best of my ability and to play to our structures and trust that process.”
Siviwe Soyizwapi is also keen to make the Singapore visit an unforgettable one this year. A knee injury halted his progress earlier this season, but the former Southern Kings winger wants to leave his mark on the tournament where he scored the first of his 47 tries in the Blitzbok jersey.
“The Commonwealth Games are behind us and this squad in Singapore will not be affected by what happened there,” said the man also known as ‘Shakes’.
“We have a nice mix here in Singapore, as well as some good energy and I am looking forward to contribute. We are a better team than the one defeat in Australia and the nice thing is we have another opportunity to prove that.”
Soyizwapi also has his eye on the ball, not the log: “It has been a very competitive season and you really have to work hard to get the results. We can only keep focussing on what we do. That has brought results for us in the past and there is no reason why it cannot happen again.”
The Springbok Sevens team for the Singapore Sevens (with tournament caps and points):
1. Heino Bezuidenhout (1 tournament, 6 matches, 5 points, 1 try)
2. Ryan Oosthuizen (7 tournaments, 27 matches, 30 points, 6 tries)
3. Kyle Brown (captain; 64 tournaments, 324 matches, 420 points, 84 tries)
4. Zain Davids (10 tournaments, 42 matches, 35 points, 7 tries)
5. Dylan Sage (21 tournaments, 116 matches, 140 points, 28 tries)
6. Rosko Specman (25 tournaments, 137 matches, 338 points, 62 tries, 14 conversions)
7. Selvyn Davids (4 tournaments, 19 matches, 76 points, 10 tries, 12 conversions)
8. Cecil Afrika (59 tournaments, 309 matches, 1395 points, 170 tries)
9. Werner Kok (34 tournaments, 166 matches, 370 points, 74 tries)
10. Stedman Gans (9 tournaments, 36 matches, 45 points, 9 tries)
11. Muller du Plessis (3 tournaments, 14 matches, 40 points, 8 tries)
12. Siviwe Soyizwapi (15 tournaments, 71 matches, 235 points, 47 tries)
13. James Murphy * (1 tournament, 6 matches, 0 points)