The Springbok Sevens squad start will start the Emirates Dubai Sevens on Friday with a healthy dose of reality, but also the expectation that the hard work done on the training field and some personnel adjustments will bring a change in recent fortunes.
That is the view of Blitzboks coach Sandile Ngcobo, who believes the second tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will deliver better results as the first one in Hong Kong early last month.
“We have more energy and speed and worked hard at controlling the pace of the game,” Ngcobo explained the main difference from his first tournament and his second as head coach of the national side.
The Blitzbok squad changed considerably from the one that played in Hong Kong, with six new players that travelled to Dubai, but Ngcobo said it was needed and expected.
“There was a need for a rejuvenation of sorts on the cards anyway – we are in transition with players and new faces were always going to come in,” he said.
“I think the potential impact of those new players was the main factor for us, what they bring to the team and what we were looking for in that regard. We wanted to bring in some game breakers and we will see how that will go.
“The two uncapped players, Ricardo (Duarttee) and Masande (Mtshali), fit the criteria we wanted in both of their positions. Masande brings height, speed and is very coachable. He is a warrior.
“Ricardo is very dynamic and fast, has a high work ethic and pays attention to detail, so he will do well.”
The coach also mentioned Dalvon Blood, who will make a second appearance for the Blitzboks after his debut in Toulouse in May: “Dalvon brings speed and is a particularly good finisher. He has actually been around for a while now and just had some bad luck with injuries. He is very willing and does not mind hard work, so we are excited about his contributions.”
Ngcobo has a clear vision when it came to South Africa’s pool opponents.
“Great Britain as the opener is ideal. We wanted a tough start, and it does not get much tougher than that, as they have beaten us in Hong Kong. But we came here to fight and do battle and that is the perfect opportunity to start the tournament,” the coach said.
Great Britain (70), South Africa (67) and Kenya (40) were in the bottom five with points scored in Hong Kong (compared with the top five who all scored 140 points or more), but the new energy and speed in the squad will change that, said Ngcobo.
“We would like to execute the basics and have it done well. With the versatility in this squad, if the basics are done well, we will achieve our aim for day one, which is topping our pool,” he said, adding that their objectives for Friday are clear.
“Getting the basics done well, using the game changers and then day one will look after itself,” Ngcobo believes.
Pool schedule – Friday, 2 December (SA time, all matches live on SuperSport)
09h34 – Great Britain
13h20 – Kenya
18h33 – Australia
The Springbok Sevens squad for Dubai:
Ryan Oosthuizen – 33 tournaments, 165 points (33 tries)
Impi Visser – 22 tournaments, 125 points (25 tries)
Zain Davids – 33 tournaments, 160 points (32 tries)
James Murphy – 10 tournaments, 45 points (9 tries)
JC Pretorius – 21 tournaments, 225 points (45 tries)
Masande Mtshali – uncapped
Siviwe Soyizwapi (captain) – 41 tournaments, 680 points (136 tries)
Branco du Preez – 83 tournaments, 1434 points (100 tries, 464 conversions, 1 penalty goal, 1 drop goal)
Dewald Human – 19 tournaments, 213 points (17 tries, 64 conversions)
Shilton van Wyk – 5 tournaments, 35 points (7 tries)
Dalvon Blood – 1 tournament, 20 points (4 tries)
Muller du Plessis – 20 tournaments, 315 points (63 tries)
Ricardo Duarttee – uncapped