CAPE TOWN – Last week, Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said he wants ‘no excuses’ from his team when they compete in Hamilton this weekend.
The Blitzboks will look to get a solid start to their 2018/19 campaign after the break after a disappointing result in the opening leg in Dubai and in the second tournament of the season in Cape Town. And they have more than enough motivation to get that good start ... without excuses.
Experienced campaigner Kyle Brown is set to equal Frankie Horne’s record for the most World Series tournament appearances by a South African (68) and will get to surpass him if he makes an appearance in Sydney next weekend, while stalwart and defensive leader Chris Dry will return from injury.
There’s also JC Pretorius, the newbie who could get a chance to make a statement in New Zealand this weekend. Then there’s also the other motivation, the big one - improvement.
Before their departure for the Land of the Long White Cloud, Powell also said he’d be happy as long as the team show improvement.
And given the position they’re in, that growth-over-results objective is understandable. After all, the new season came with a rough introduction for the defending Series champions. After losing the likes of Ruhan Nel, Kwagga Smith, Dylan Sage, Tim Ababa and Seabelo Senatla to their Fifteens aspirations, Powell has brought in a number of Academy products to fill those experienced shoes.
And, naturally, there have been some teething problems.
In Dubai the Blitzboks struggled to get going thanks to their defensive structure and, to a lesser extent, discipline issues, while a few attacking malfunctions and individualistic acts didn’t do them any good either.
They had to be happy with sixth place, and in Cape Town, although there were still some work-ons, things looked better.
So, if Powell and Co. have managed to sort out those issues and the new players understand their roles a bit better, then it’s hard to foresee a stagnant Blitzboks side in Australasia.
After all, they have all the motivation to make the step-up, and their coach has no room for excuses.@WynonaLouw