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Blitzboks to 'play with joy' at London Sevens

Sevens

SPRINGBOK Sevens playmaker Rosko Specman says that the Blitzboks want to make the last leg of the 2016/17 World Sevens Series a "special" one.

The Blitzboks, who last week claimed the series title in Paris as well as the tournament title, will face Kenya, Wales, and the USA in Pool A of the tournament in London today.

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Rosko Specman has missed several tournaments through injury. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Specman, who proved to be a real talisman for the World Series champions in 2017, appreciates the fact that this will be the last opportunity for this current squad to play together.

“We have been training since September last year and have been in each other's company since then, so we have established a wonderful bond,” said Specman.

“We really are a band of brothers. This tournament will be the last for this group to play together and we want to make it special.”

South Africa clinched the series when they won their fifth tournament in Paris last weekend and will officially be crowned champions on Sunday, another motivation for the team to give it one more push, Specman feels.

“The pressure to win the series is gone, but we are still under pressure from ourselves to deliver a performance to be proud out,” said Specman.

“I think though, we will also be out to celebrate our successes this year by expressing ourselves and play with joy.”

Last year, the Blitzboks came to Twickenham still within the grasp of the overall series title, but Fiji gained enough points to retain the series trophy. South Africa made the final, but suffered a heart-breaking loss when Scotland scored the winning points after the final buzzer.

“That was very disappointing yes, we felt terrible. But that was also the start of us making finals, and we learned from that experience. So although we lost that one, we learned valuable lessons that helped us winning five finals out of eight since,” Specman said.

The Grahamstown-raised player has often swung the momentum of tight matches towards South Africa with his attacking prowess and was named Player of the Final in Las Vegas.

“Those accolades are great, but it remains a team effort. I will still want to go out and make the tournament's Dream Team, but my responsibilities within our structures will come first,” said Specman, who scored 17 tries this season, including a spectacular one in the semi-final of the HSBC Paris Sevens against New Zealand last weekend.

The team’s leading points’ scorer of all time, Cecil Afrika, credited the coaching staff for much of the success the team enjoyed this season.

“They really put a foundation in place for us, with the preparations and game plan. We just need to go out and execute that,” Afrika said.

“We go into every match with a proper plan and the coach gives us pretty clear instructions. Within that structure, we then go out and put our bodies on the line for our team mates and country. That is why we were successful this year.”

The 29-year old was a rookie squad member of the 2008/09 team that won the World Series, but did not play in any tournaments.

Blitzboks fixtures for Saturday (SA times):

12h20 vs Kenya

15h26 vs Wales

18h32 vs USA

Blitzboks squad:

1. Chris Dry (61; 450), 2. Philip Snyman (captain, 46; 291), 3. Dylan Sage (16; 95), 4. Ryan Oosthuizen (3, 0), 5. Werner Kok (28; 345), 6. Siviwe Soyizwapi (11; 155), 7. Branco du Preez (54; 1043), 8. Sandile Ngcobo (5; 20), 9. Dewald Human (1; 2), 10. Cecil Afrika (52; 1273), 11. Rosko Specman (20; 258), 12. Ruhan Nel (20; 172), 13. Marco Labuschagne (0, 0).

Independent Media

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