Johannesburg – Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu says his squad realise they have an important task ahead of them in the United States leg of the Sevens World Series starting in Las Vegas on Friday (Saturday, SA time).
“There's no hiding from the fact that we must step up in a big way from our disappointing showing in Wellington,” Treu said.
“The boys are determined to play to their full potential and to show the fighting spirit we are known for.”
South Africa were eliminated in the plate semi-finals at the previous leg of the series in Wellington, New Zealand, last week, settling in a tie for fourth place in the overall standings.
Scrumhalf and sweeper Branco du Preez returns to action after a long injury layoff because of a hamstring injury, but he is likely to be used primarily off the bench on day one of the three-day tournament.
Du Preez missed the previous rounds of the series in Dubai, Wellington and Port Elizabeth, and will add some experience and attacking options to the injury-plagued Springbok Sevens team.
Fit-again Du Preez flew into Las Vegas at the beginning of the week as a replacement for rookie Justin Geduld, who suffered a fractured wrist in his debut tournament last week.
Captain Frankie Horne said the South Africans would be determined to deliver a much-improved performance at a venue where they triumphed two seasons ago.
“We sorted out those little things that bugged us in Wellington, like our defence,” Horne said.
“Most of the mistakes we made were due to a lack of focus. Those are little things where we did not pay attention to detail. We addressed those issues quite harshly and I am confident things will go much better this weekend.”
The Blitzboks won the 2011 tournament at Sam Boyd Stadium and Horne believed they would be strong contenders again.
“I think the players are in a good space for this one and very determined to give it their best.
“Two years ago we also needed to sharpen up from Wellington and hopefully we will manage to do the same this weekend. Hopefully those small adjustments will bring the results.”
The Springbok Sevens are grouped with Kenya, Canada and Uruguay in the pool stages and will get the opportunity to avenge last weekend's defeats against fellow Africans Kenya and fast-improving Canada.
South Africa squad: Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne (captain), Warren Whiteley, Cornal Hendricks, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Pieter Engelbrecht, Paul Delport, Cheslin Kolbe, Tshotsho Mbovane, Seabelo Senatla. – Sapa