Blitzbokke up for World Cup challenge

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Paul_Treu Gallo Images Paul Treu has stepped down as coach of the Springbok Sevens team, the SA Rugby Union announced. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

Johannesburg – Coach Paul Treu was confident ahead of the SA sevens team's departure for Russia on Saturday evening, intent on claiming their maiden Sevens World Cup title.

Despite their inconsistency this season, the Blitbokke won three Sevens World Series tournaments and finished the season in second place overall behind New Zealand, and Treu hoped they would shine at the three-day World Cup tournament.

“The mistake in the past is that we’ve always been so focussed on the series and the series is something you build over a season,” Treu said.

“When you don’t do well there is always that second opportunity to come back from week one to week two, or day one to day two.”

Treu said the team approached their last series victory in Glasgow as if it was the World Cup, which helped in their preparations for the Moscow tournament.

“This is a once-off event, so everything must intensify from your mental focus, your running intensity, your opportunities taken Ä everything must be valued,” he said.

“Once the players have started to understand that, hopefully it will hold us in good stead next week when we hopefully win the World Cup for the first time.”

The team suffered a number of injury setbacks ahead of the tournament with captain Frankie Horne and Paul Delport among the list of unavailable players.

However, Treu was confident that he had enough senior players to fill their shoes.

“Obviously you can’t replace players like Frankie Horne, Steven Hunt, Paul Delport and Justin Geduld,” he said.

“But I am confident that we’ve selected a good mix of players with the ability to put other teams away over two or three days.

“They’ve got the speed but they also have speed endurance because we need strike players who can really put points on the board.”

The squad has been boosted by the return of Kyle Brown as captain, and the inclusion of Junior Springboks Seabelo Senatla and Cheslin Kolbe will give them some extra firing power.

Brown, Ryno Benjamin and Philip Snyman are the only three survivors of the team that reached the quarter-finals of the 2009

World Cup in Dubai.

Since 1997, the Blitzbokke have reached three quarter-finals and a final, but silverware has eluded them at the quadrennial sevens spectacle.

Treu said the greatest challenge was to ensure the team could withstand the pressures of playing in a three-day tournament.

“If the players you have are not mentally strong over three days, especially in the latter part of the tournament, then it is definitely going to be tough for you to win an event such as the World Cup,” he said.

The Blitzbokke will kick-off their campaign against Russia on Friday and will then face Japan and Scotland on Saturday to complete their Pool B matches. – Sapa



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