SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town - 09 December 2019 - Neil Powell the Blitzboks coach being interviewd at the Cullinan Hotel this morning, about the upcoming tournament at the Cape Town Stadium. photograph :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell isn’t reading anything into Fiji’s disappointing run at the Dubai Sevens.

Fiji missed out on the knock-outs in the tournament for the first time at the weekend, and for the Cape Town Sevens, they’ve been drawn alongside South Africa, the US and Japan.

Fiji, the US, Australia and England fell by the wayside in the UAE, while the Blitzboks went the distance and defeated defending Dubai champions, New Zealand, 15-0 in the final.

It sure is a tough pool, but it’s far from the only challenges the Blitzboks are gearing up for.

“It’s going to be a challenge (the draw), but if you want to be successful you can’t choose who you want to play,” Powell said.

“Fiji will definitely be better this weekend, so it can go one of two ways for them and us. It’s going to be important for us to focus on each game as it comes. There are no more easy games, you can’t say a certain game is a definite win anymore”

Powell went on to say that he was pleased with how his team came together as the Dubai tournament progressed.

“In that first match against Kenya it felt like the guys weren’t gelling yet, like they hadn’t found each other yet, but I was happy with how it came together.

“If we can get the same thing going here it can be a good combination between the younger players like Kurt-Lee (Arendse), JC (Pretorius) and Ryan (Oosthuizen) and the guys who bring more experience.”

Powell also explained the importance of a succession plan, something that has become increasingly important in recent years with the departure of experienced players due to retirement or the Fifteens scene.

“A big focus for us has been our succession plan, to make sure that the next guy steps in when someone like Kyle Brown or Philip Snyman steps out.

“Last year, for example, we could have given someone like Kyle Brown more game time in his final year, but it was important to give players like JC and Ryan more opportunities.

“It’s maybe too early to say, but it seems like what we’ve implemented is bearing fruit. Sometimes it was tough to pick a youngster over a more experienced player, but you have to plan ahead and in hindsight it was a good decision.”

One of those guys Powell is getting ready for the future is Lions sensation Hacjivah Dayimani, who was a part of the Academy side that won the International Invitational Tournament in Dubai.

“He has improved with every game. Obviously he’ll still make a mistake here and there, but it was the first tournament he played for us.

“He is a part of the group now, he comes in for Christi Grobbelaar, who was the 13th player in Dubai.

“We don’t know if we’ll be able to have him for the Sydney and Hilton tournaments, but we hope so,” said Powell.

“The reason why he wasn’t in the Blitzboks group for Dubai was merely because we knew he’d get more game time with the Academy side.

“He’s in our plans for the Olympics.”

@WynonaLouw 


Cape Times

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