Siviwe Soyizwapi and his team will take a lot of inspiration from Siya Kolisi and his Springboks' victory at the RWC. Photo: Michael Jansen/IOL Sport

JUMEIRAH - The Dubai Sevens has so far been a happy stomping ground for the Springbok Sevens team. 

Winners on six occasions, they have been runners up at the desert venue once, semi-finalists five times and enjoyed a top four placing twelve times.

For coach Neil Powell, it is important that his charges start the season on a positive note.

“I think we are better prepared compared to the same time last year,” said Powell. “In our pre-season, we had warm-up tournaments in Germany, Kenya and England, and everyone had a good run in at least one of those. Selection was tough, as most of the regulars are available for the opening tournament.”

The Blitzboks, who boast an experienced side in Dubai this year, will be keen to return home next week with the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens spoils for the seventh time as this season culminates in the Tokyo Olympic Games where Rugby Sevens will feature for the second time in Olympic history.

Speaking during the official captains’ photo session on the white sands of Dubai’s Jumeirah beach and with the towering Burj al Arab looking down on Tuesday’s procedings, Bok skipper Siviwe Soyizwapi echoed his coach.

“We will take a lot of inspiration from Siya Kolisi and his Springboks’ victory at the RWC in Japan. I don’t think South Africa’s title as Rugby World Cup champions will put us under any pressure. We are a united nation and, like all South Africans, we as the Blitzboks will feed off the excitement and inspiration Siya’s team brought back from Japan.”

The Springboks Sevens camp will have two sides campaigning in Dubai which, this year kicks off on Thursday, making the fiftieth edition of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens yet another three-day tournament on the ten-tournament World Rugby Sevens Series.

SA Rugby Sevens Academy coach Marius Schoeman has named seasoned players like Werner Kok, Branco du Preez and Cecil Africa in his team which will compete in the Dubai Sevens International Invitational tournament. Kok recently returned from France after a short stint with Toulouse as a RWC stand-in player – a so-called ‘medical joker’ - while du Preez and Afrika are back following lengthy injury lay-offs.   

“These players will make a massive difference to the Academy team this weekend. They have played over twenty tournaments each, they know Dubai, they know what to expect and given their natural talent and experience it is good to have them back in the squad.”

“Guys like Seabelo Senatla, Dylan Sage, Ruhan Nel and Rosko Specman who are back from playing fifteens rugby have slotted right back into this format of the game and I expect them to contribute immensely,” added Soyizwapi.

Siviwe Soyizwapi shows off the Blitzboks' match-jersey for the 2019/2020 season. Photo: Michael Jansen
Siviwe Soyizwapi shows off the Blitzboks' match-jersey for the 2019/2020 season. Photo: Michael Jansen

“We are blessed with great depth and both teams are looking forward to what they can bring over the weekend at The Sevens Stadium here in Dubai.”

The Blitzboks team is:

Chris Dry

Ryan Oosthuizen

Dylan Sage

Zain Davids

JC Pretorius

Siviwe Soyizwapi (captain)

Selvyn Davids

Rosko Specman

Justin Geduld 

Kurt-Lee Arendse

Seabelo Senatla

Ruhan Nel

Christi Grobbelaar (13th player)

Michael Jansen

IOL Sport

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