Injury-plagued Blitzboks Sevens underdogs

Despite being runaway HSBC 2016-17 World Sevens Series log leaders after four titles and six final appearances this season‚ the Blitzboks are underdogs going into round seven in Hong Kong.

The prestigious leg of the series sees the Blitzboks go into the tournament well prepared as they attempt to win in Hong Kong for the first time.

South Africa hold a 23-point lead over England at the top of the standings and, regardless of the outcome this weekend‚ they will still be top of the pile going into round eight in Singapore next week.

Winning is the goal‚ but a semifinal appearance would go a long way to tightening the Blitzboks’ grasp on the overall title.

The draw is also difficult. Should South Africa come through their pool they are likely to face Fiji or New Zealand in the quarterfinals.

They have only lost three out of 36 matches this season and all have been against England‚ a side the Blitzboks have met five times, including in the finals in Cape Town‚ Sydney and Vancouver.

If the Blitzboks can limit damage on their lead‚ it would increase the pressure on the chasing pack with tournaments running out.

South African captain Phillip Snyman was optimistic of his team’s chances despite a swathe of injuries that have ruled out Rosko Specman‚ Justin Geduld and Stephan Dippenaar.

The 30-year-old captain will also have to calm the nerves of the two 19-year-olds in the squad‚ Stedman Gans and Zain Davids‚ and make sure debutant Blitzbok‚ Selvyn Davids‚ hits the ground running‚ as South Africa face tough matches against France today and Kenya and Canada tomorrow.

“Our [training] sessions went well‚” Snyman said.

“We had a solid attack session when we arrived and then showed good intensity in our defence session‚ which normally points to a positive mind-set in the squad.

“Stedman and Zain have seen what it’s all about in the last couple of tournaments‚ so they know what’s needed to contribute positively.”

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