CAPE TOWN – If there’s one thing the Blitzboks know all too well, it’s that sometimes you just have to make do with what you have, no matter how far from ideal the situation might be.
That “far from ideal” situation is one the Springbok Sevens side have found themselves in many times this season. And that situation’s name is injury.
It certainly hasn’t made things any easier for the team, especially after they also had to deal with the departure of a significant amount of experience. This time, ahead of next weekend’s Hong Kong Sevens not much has changed.
Siviwe Soyizwapi will captain the team in the absence of the injured Philip Snyman in Asia next week as the regular skipper is still recovering from a head knock he suffered at the Vancouver Sevens, where the Blitzboks not only played in their first Cup final of the 2018-19 series, but also claimed their first tournament win of the season.
Young speedster Muller du Plessis will also miss out on a seat to the seventh leg of the series thanks to injury.
Then there’s JC Pretorius, who made the Dream Team in Vancouver, who will also miss out due to injury.
And while the disruption that injury brings is often, well, disruptive, it also presents new opportunities.
And that’s one thing coach Neil Powell has done a lot of this season - gifting opportunities.
Twenty-year-old Angelo Davids will get such an opportunity after being named on the wing in Du Plessis’ absence, while Ryan Oosthuizen will come in for Philip Snyman.
Kurt-Lee Arendse, who made the trip to Canada as a replacement, will also get a big opportunity when he takes Werner Kok’s regular spot out wide, with Kok moving to the forwards.
According to Powell, the top-of-the-podium finish in Vancouver will provide the Blitzboks with some momentum, while he is also confident that those opportunities will be effectively used.
“In the ideal world the same squad would have travelled to Hong Kong, but we had to replace three players due to injury,” said Powell. “That created special opportunities for Shakes (Sowyizwapi) and Angelo, who will debut as captain and player respectively.
Shakes was identified as a future leader and made part of the leadership group before the season started and he led the team admirably in those final two matches in Vancouver - I am confident that he will continue to do so.
"Angelo has been part of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy for the last two years and played very well on their recent trip to South America. He is a hard worker and very coachable, so I have a lot of confidence in his ability.
He is fast and great on defence, and will fit into the team culture with ease.”