JOHANNESBURG – The Springbok Women's Sevens team arrived in Brisbane, Australia earlier this week with a new coach and captain, and according to Zintle Mpupha, the new skipper, they are excited and ready to test themselves against the best.
Mpupha, who took over the captaincy recently, described the mood in the squad as “superb” after a good field session as they prepare to play in the Super7sBrisbane tournament on Saturday and Sunday at the Sci-Fleet Stadium in Toowong.
“We had a long flight to get here, but after the session everyone was ready to go – we are ready for the tournament and can’t wait get on the field again,” Mpupha said.
The women’s team have some important tournaments on their calendar this year, including the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series qualifiers in Hong Kong in March, the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April, and the Rugby Sevens World Cup in the USA in July, so they realise how important the need for a good foundation will be.
The fact that Paul Delport took over as head coach from Renfred Dazel and Mpupha replaced Veroeshka Grain as captain will not be an issue, the University of Fort Hare graduate insisted.
“Nothing has changed, it’s still the same system,” said Mpupha.
“I think it’s good that Paul was appointed as he had worked with us before, so it is not like we adapting to a brand new coach. Otherwise the girls are doing so well with him and he’s also happy with the way we responded to new things that he has brought in.”
On her new role as leader, the flyhalf and playmaker was equally positive: “It doesn’t change my approach to the tournament – I’m rather more excited and ready for the games to start and to see where we are as a team. We were mostly doing game-related stuff in training, now we can actually see it finally happening and being tested.”
Joining South Africa in pool play will be Papua New Guinea, Sweden and England, while other teams in action at the tournament include the USA, Poland, France, Wales, Fiji and Japan.
“We haven’t been focusing much on our opponents, but rather on ourselves. The teams in our pool are physical and have pace if you give them too much space. But this game changes every day so we are expecting anything,” said Mpupha.
“As players, we will not relax just because we have seen the squad for the Commonwealth Games – it will rather drive us to work even harder. This tournament is also about preparing is us to face the top teams, and I believe the more we play against them, the better we will get.”
SA schedule for Saturday (SA times):
3.22am: v Papua New Guinea
5.22am: v Sweden
8.28am: v England
The Springbok Women’s Sevens squad is:
Unathi Mali, Megan Comley, Rights Mkhari, Christelene Steinhobel, Zinhle Ndawonde, Mathrin Simmers, Chane Stadler, Eloise Webb, Zintle Mpupha (captain), Veroeshka Grain, Nadine Roos, Zenay Jordaan
African News Agency (ANA)