SA Sevens star JC Pretorius is confident Blitzboks can rediscover their form

JC Pretorius is confident his former side can return to their good form. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

JC Pretorius is confident his former side can return to their good form. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Published May 18, 2023


Johannesburg - JC Pretorius admits that the Blitzboks are in a bit of a slump at the moment, but the former Sevens star remains confident that the team will return stronger once they rediscover who they are.

The 25-year-old left the Blitzboks set- up last year and joined the Lions to pursue his ambitions in XVs. Despite his shift, Pretorius keeps a watchful eye on his former teammates over on the World Sevens Series.

Like the rest of South Africa, he has witnessed a team in flux – one that can produce brilliant moments in one instance, only to implode a match later. Pretorius, who played in 122 games for the Blitzboks and scored 50 tries during that period, revealed his opinion to IOL on Wednesday night as to why that might be the case.

“At the moment,” he said, “the Sevens team is going through a dip.

“It is not due to a lack of systems or the coaching. I think it is just a lot of young players that have had to stick their hands up and who haven’t played any academy tours but have been moved straight onto the main stage.

“Normally, we use between 19 to 21 players. The system has used 28 players this season and I think that is the most it has used in a whole season since my time at the Blitzboks.”

Despite an undulating season, the Commonwealth Games gold medalist and Tokyo Olympian, believes the fabric of the Blitzboks remains intact, laying beneath their current woes, and ready to reassert itself. Pretorius looks back at the Toulouse Sevens to make his case.

“They showed glimpses this past weekend of how they can really play and punish teams. The way they played against Fiji in the pool stages and against the US (both 24-7 victories), and then just coming short against Argentina (21-12 loss).”

The Blitzboks will have one final opportunity this weekend to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, when they compete in the London Sevens. The task at hand, however, will be a difficult one.

Currently, the Blitzboks are in seventh spot in the standings of the Sevens Series, and will need to leapfrog both Samoa and Australia to finish fifth to gain automatic qualification to the Games. They require a healthy haul of points and must hope that both those nations fail to make much of an impact during the tournament.

If they do come up short, then the Blitzboks can still qualify for Paris 2024 through the African qualification process (Afcon) but there is no guarantee that Sascoc will consider them for the Games. As has been noted in the past, the country’s Olympic body is loath to accept such a route into the showpiece event.

Reading between the lines, this would arguably be a short-sighted approach.

Said Pretorius: “Going into the Afcon games, they will play against Kenya and other African teams in the qualifiers.

“A lot of injured players have come back from rehab now – a guy like Selwyn Davids will be able to play in those Afcon games. The team should just stick to their structures and just believe. We all know what they are capable of, and they also know that.”


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