SAN FRANCISCO – Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell feels that his team will have to overcome a psychological, rather than a physical challenge on Friday evening (early Saturday morning SA time), when they start their Rugby World Cup Sevens campaign at AT&T Park in San Francisco, USA.
South Africa have never won this world showpiece, but Powell feels his players have the capabilities to go all the way.
“I am not too worried about the physical side of things,” said Powell. “We had a number of great training sessions, held two productive training camps and since our arrival here, we have played a warm-up match against Argentina. Everything went well, so I am pretty pleased with that.”
Powell said the ability to stay focussed on the task ahead could be their biggest challenge: “We need to get out of the blocks well against the winner of the match between Chile and Ireland.
“The problem is that the winner of that encounter will be playing their second match of the day, and they will have some momentum and confidence when they play us. We start from scratch and that could count against us.”
Powell is also aware that the match will only be played at 21h15 (local time) on Friday (06h15 on Saturday morning, SA time).
“It will be a very long day for us,” said the Blitzbok coach. “Our opponents will play much earlier and then have a good break before they face us, which is not ideal.”
The Springbok Sevens team won back-to-back HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series titles and are the first seeds in the USA, but they do not want the tag as tournament favourites.
“We have seen this year that no team can be underestimated, so we will need to be ready come Friday evening,” said Powell, who added that they had adapted their schedule slightly to ensure they are at their best when their first match starts.
“We changed some of our sessions around and also played against Argentina in a chukka, which helped a lot. The guys have shown a good appetite this week and I am happy that we will be delivering a strong performance.”
Captain Philip Snyman has experienced the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai (2009) and Moscow (2013), while the rest of the squad will make their debuts at this level. Snyman will become the first Blitzbokke player to play in three RWC Sevens tournaments.
The team will play the winner of the match between Ireland and Chile at 21h15 Friday night (06h15 Saturday morning SA time).
The Springbok Sevens team is:
1. Ryan Oosthuizen
2. Philip Snyman (captain)
3. Dylan Sage
4. Zain Davids
5. Werner Kok
6. Heino Bezuidenhout
7. Dewald Human
8. Rosko Specman
9. Justin Geduld
10. Selvyn Davids
11. Siviwe Soyizwapi
12. Ruhan Nel