The Blitzboks will be looking to get the year off to a winning start. Photo:

Beginning today (Friday), the Blitzboks look to defend their Sydney crown and also chase down the slender two-point lead the New Zealanders have over them through two legs of the Sevens World Series.

In doing so, they can call on the experience of their captain, Philip Snyman, who plays his 50th tournament for the South African Sevens side.

The 30-year-old player made his BlitzBoks debut in 2008 in Dubai, and has been part of both squads that won the World Rugby Sevens Series titles, in 2008/09 and again in 2016/17.

“It is a massive honour for any player to play 50 tournaments and to be able to do it in a Springbok Sevens jersey just makes it even more special for me,” said Snyman.

“I did not think too much about it, to be honest. My focus was more to go out and hit the pitch with my brothers and to enjoy that. The fact that I can share it with friends and family makes it very rewarding on a personal note.

“We have set goals for ourselves this weekend though and it does not matter whether it is your 50th tournament, your first or 10th, you need to go out and contribute equally. We all have a role to play for the team to achieve their goals.”

Snyman is not even the most experienced player in the squad with household names such as Kyle Brown (60 tournaments) and Cecil Afrika (55 tournaments) on hand to welcome the sixth Blitzbok ever to play in 50 tournaments.

It won’t be the most challenging of starts to a tournament for the defending champions as they face the minnow side of Papua New Guinea (9.22am SA time), a side they have met on five other occasions.

The last clash was way back in 2003, when the Blitzboks won 49-0. The Island nation team scored a famous victory against South Africa though, by 21-10 in Tokyo in 2000.

From there, tomorrow (Saturday), the South Africans have another easy one to get into the swing of things as they face Spain, but then will have to up their game to take on England.

England are no doubt one of the major challenges that are looking to stop the Blitzboks from becoming back-to-back Series winners as they also gun for the title.

Fiji are always a threat in this format of the game, but the ones the Blitzboks will really be eyeing are New Zealand who seem to have gathered back their momentum after a less than perfect season in 2017.

With only two more legs left before the likes of Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla leave for Super Rugby duties, this tournament, and the following one in Hamilton, New Zealand, become all the more important.

There are several players who are tipped to produce stand-out performances when the third round of the World Rugby Sevens Series takes place in Sydney this weekend and Snyman is one of them.

The skipper has an incredible presence on the pitch. His support lines on attack make him dangerous to any defences but it’s his leadership qualities that add much value to his team.


The Star

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