HONG KONG – Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, will make a sixth appearance in Hong Kong since his national debut for the Blitzboks in 2009, but is keen to make his first appearance as captain to this celebrated tournament a memorable one.
The Blitzboks are yet to taste glory at his event, but with six consecutive finals so far in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for 2016/17, they are harbouring the same hopes as many supporters to clinch that elusive Cup final victory for the first time.
Snyman expects the team to give a good account of themselves, despite arriving with three players who have never played in the Hong Kong Sevens before.
The 30-year-old captain will have to calm the nerves of the two 19-year-olds in the squad, Stedman Gans and Zain Davids, but also make sure debutant Blitzbok, Selvyn Davids, hits the ground running, as South Africa face tough matches against France on Friday and Kenya and Canada on Saturday.
“Our sessions went well. We had a solid attack session when we arrived and then showed good intensity in our defence session, which normally points to a positive mind-set in the squad,” Snyman said.
“Stedman and Zain have seen what it’s all about in the last couple of tournaments, so they know what’s needed to contribute positively.
“I am also pretty excited on behalf of Selvyn, as he really has some serious weapons in his arsenal and definitely has that X-factor that could stand the team in good stead.”
The Blitzboks have undergone some changes since the opening tournament in Dubai in December, with Kyle Brown, Justin Geduld, Rosko Specman and Stephan Dippenaar injured, while Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith are now playing Vodacom Super Rugby, but Snyman sees those changes as positives.
“You have to grow as a team during the year anyway and adapt here and there in order to progress your game,” he said.
“We had to make a tweak or two, but the fundamentals stayed the same. If we stick to our system and structure like we have done in the last couple of months, the rewards will be there for us.”
If everything goes according to script, either Fiji or New Zealand – both of whom have dominated this tournament in the last two decades – could await the South Africans in the Cup quarter-finals, but Snyman is adamant that they are not looking that far ahead.
“They both have awesome records at this tournament, but we are not looking at potential quarterfinals yet,” said Snyman.
“We dare not look past France for our first match on Friday, so our focus will be on a strong start on Day One. We are very keen to win here, but to do that we need to keep it simple, believe in our structures and game plan.”