Philip Snyman: It’s a matter of belief and trust for Blitzboks at Hong Kong Sevens

Christie Gobbelaar will bring some pace to the Blitzbok pack at the Hong Kong Sevens. Photo: PHANDO JIKELO Independent Newspapers

Christie Gobbelaar will bring some pace to the Blitzbok pack at the Hong Kong Sevens. Photo: PHANDO JIKELO Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 4, 2024


Interim Blitzbok coach Philip Snyman is anything but intimidated as he takes the struggling team to the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend for the most hotly contested tournament on the world circuit.

The Blitzboks limped to an 11th-place finish in the previous tournament in Los Angeles, while South Africa have never won the Hong Kong title in 24 years of trying.

“I am confident that we will do well,” Snyman said yesterday.

“We trained well back home, and the two sessions we had here in Hong Kong went smoothly.

“The main thing I wanted to establish was clarity in roles, and we have achieved that.

“You can’t dispute the talent in our squad – it was a matter of making sure every player has a clear picture of that is expected of him in the team.”

The fact that they need a strong start was not neglected in the lead-up to the tournament, especially as Ireland await in their opening match.

The Irish blanked the Blitzboks 17-0 in Los Angeles, mainly by dominating the restarts and breakdowns and by managing to keep the ball away from the dangerous South African runners.

They are second on the log thanks to consistent performances in the previous five tournaments, where they have reached the knockout stages every time.

Snyman said consistency was another aspect they addressed: “There was a lot of times where we were all over the place, especially in our defence in that (game) against Ireland.

“We worked hard on addressing any misunderstandings in roles and responsibilities, and we will be up for the battle.”

The first game of each tournament has proved crucial for the Blitzboks, and Snyman said nothing will change in that regard in Hong Kong.

“We have prepared for that game as if it will be our only one,” he said. “We need to win this to get momentum, and for our ambitions to reach the last four at this tournament.

“Getting out of the pool and into the quarter-finals are not negotiable for us. We have committed to bring the pride back into the jersey and the badge, and we cannot go back on that.”

Snyman had the benefit of selecting Christie Grobbelaar and Quewin Nortjé, fit again after picking up injuries in Dubai and Perth respectively, and both players will add considerably to the Blitzboks’ effort.

Grobbelaar, in his 19th tournament, will bring pace to the forward pack, and Nortjé’s try-scoring ability since his debut was a highlight of the squad this season.

Also back after missing the North American trip are Ronald Brown and Dewald Human, and adding their guile to the mix, it is clear why Snyman is confident.

“It is certainly a matter of belief and trust,” concluded the Blitzbok coach.

“Physically, we are as well prepared as we can be, and if the guys arrive mentally strong as well, we will have a good tournament.”

Blitzboks’ Pool Schedule (SA Times)

Today – 5.39am: Ireland, 8.23am: Spain

Tomorrow – 4.16am: Samoa