FILE - South Africa Sevens coach Neil Powell. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/AFP
FILE - South Africa Sevens coach Neil Powell. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/AFP

Blitzboks looking to ’get the balance right’ ahead of second Dubai Sevens event

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Dec 2, 2021

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Durban - The Springbok Sevens’ team’s reputation precedes them as they enter a second World Series tournament in Dubai on Friday and they are only too aware that they will be regarded as the team to beat, and the opposition will raise their games accordingly.

The vastly experienced Blitzboks coach Neil Powell says going into the new tournament as champions will severely test his team’s mental and physical resolve.

Understandably, the South Africans are the top-ranked team in Pool A because of their triumph in last week’s Emirates Dubai 7s triumph in the UAE.

The Blitzboks have Japan, Ireland and Great Britain in their pool.

The wily Powell reckons that the second tournament on the circuit is always a challenge for various reasons.

“You have to get that balance right by doing enough on the pitch and making sure you give the players enough time to recover – from a fitness and mental perspective – from last week’s tournament,” said Powell.

Coincidentally, all the teams are grouped in exactly the same pools as last week, something Powell reckons will be an interesting challenge.

“It’s always difficult to play the same opposition twice because I believe they learn more from you in their defeat,” he explained.

Powell added that this weekend’s action will definitely push the Blitzboks’ fitness levels to the ultimate as they will be without the injured Muller du Plessis, while Ryan Oosthuizen has a question mark over his fitness and will be given as much time as possible to recover.

“Because of the closure of international travel border, we cannot fly in any replacements,” he said.

“So, from that perspective, we will have to box clever. I just hope we can stay injury-free so that we’re able to spread the workload evenly over the two days.”

Meanwhile, the Blitzbok mentor added there are a few areas he has targeted for improvement: “I felt we didn’t do enough to protect the ball, while we can certainly increase the width of our defensive line.”

With the two tournaments just seven days apart, Powell said the aim would be to take last weekend’s Cup final momentum straight into play on the opening day: “We built up momentum last weekend as we went along, so I would like us to take that (momentum) forward from the first game on Friday.”

The Blitzboks open their Pool A fixtures on Friday morning against Japan (09h12), followed by matches against Ireland (13h04) and Great Britain (18h33).

@MikeGreenaway67

IOL Sport

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