Don’t think about the overall title‚ just concentrate on the job at hand. That is the gist of the message Blitzbok coach Neil Powell is giving his side going into round eight of the HSBC World Sevens Series in Singapore this weekend.
The Blitzboks are 23 points clear of Fiji at the top of the standings with three rounds remaining after a remarkable season that has seen them reach all seven finals of the 2016-2017 campaign‚ with four wins and three runners-up finishes.
But the job is not done and with an injury-ravaged squad‚ emerging from their pool and into the last eight is the main priority this weekend.
Powell’s team take on Japan in their Pool B opener‚ followed by France and nemesis England‚ who have inflicted three of the Blitzboks’ four defeats this year. Fiji’s 22-0 win in last week’s Hong Kong final was the other.
“We need to start well and build momentum from there‚ so, in a way‚ the Japan match is the most important one of the tournament‚ as it will set the tone‚” Powell said. “They are a dangerous side when given space‚ so our defence will have to be spot-on.
“If we are going to allow them to run around‚ we will have a lot of defending to do.”
The Blitzboks then face France‚ another dangerous opponent, according to Powell.
“They played well against us last weekend in Hong Kong‚ where we won 17-10, and they will take a lot of confidence from that match.
“You never know which French team is going to pitch and that makes them a very tough opponent.” The final pool match against England could also prove the toughest one mentally and physically.
Three of the Blitzboks’ four defeats this season (and a draw) came at the hands of England‚ with the defeat in the Vancouver final last month the most recent. “Ye s ‚ they are difficult to beat‚” Powell said. “They are well coached and have the most experienced side in Singapore.
“They are very physical‚ but we lost against ourselves in the defeat in Vancouver.
“We played poorly in that final‚ so the challenge will be to trust our structures and systems.
“If we do that and cut out the basic errors we tend to make against them‚ we will be competitive‚” Powell said.
Springbok Sevens winger Siviwe Soyizwapi said the team was keen to rectify the mistakes from last weekend.
“In a way‚ we are lucky that Singapore is just a week after Hong Kong‚ which means we have a chance to fix things right away‚” Soyizwapi said.
He made his debut in Hong Kong last year and has since played in nine tournaments‚ scoring 21 tries. “Singapore is very hot and humid‚ pretty much like Durban‚ but that will only be a factor if we allow it to be.” – TMG Sport