Blitzboks Arrived In Hong Kong With Their Backs To The Wall

 

They may have arrived in Hong Kong with their backs to the wall, but the Springbok Sevens team know where to make the necessary improvements to get back on track with only four tournaments left in the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

With injuries having ravaged the squad, more than half of the Blitzboks who travelled to the Far East have played in fewer than 10 World Series tournaments.

However, according to assistant coach Philip Snyman, they have arrived in Hong Kong with lots of energy after some hard and honest assessments of where they fell short in North America a month ago.

Snyman said they realise they need to keep possession and improve on their defence, but before that can happen when the action starts on Friday, the three new players in the squad – Donovan Don, Ethan James and Sebastiaan Jobb – have to get used to the Blitzboks’ way of operating.

“They are intelligent with the X-factor and they are learning fast, but we have to help them get used to our system as soon as possible,” said Snyman.

“We also have Shaun Williams, Travis Ismaiel and Tiaan Pretorius back from injury and I feel there is a lot of energy in the team. Yes, we’ve lost nine players to injury – six of them playmakers – but these are the cards we’ve been dealt, and the new guys are learning a lot, bringing a positive attitude to the camp.

“We know how dangerous we can be with ball in hand, but that means we can’t afford to turn over possession and we need quick ball from the breakdowns, so we can try and get our speedsters in space.

“Then, we need to make a big step up on defence. We only completed 56% of our tackles in Vancouver and we need to get that up to at least 80%. If we do that, we will concede five or six fewer tries, and hopefully score a few more, which should make a big difference.”

When the Blitzboks’ tournament kicks off on Friday morning against Ireland, they will have one aim front of mind – to make it out of their tough pool and qualify for the quarter-finals, something that eluded the South Africans in Vancouver.

As a result, the Blitzboks have been seeded with Ireland, Kenya and New Zealand in a tough Pool D in Hong Kong, occupying the number four position in the group.

“We have a very difficult pool, but we have been working very hard in the last few weeks, also to bring the enjoyment back to our squad – which we will only achieve if we do the things I’ve highlighted – and our first aim this weekend will be to make the quarter-finals,” said Snyman.

“If we can do that, it will give our confidence a big boost and hopefully all will fall into place after that. I believe that if we play with intensity and momentum, and in our opponents’ faces on defence, we will have a good weekend and we can make the quarter-finals.”