JOHANNESBURG - The Springbok Sevens side will not be dwelling too much on their failure to successfully defend their title in Las Vegas and will rather look at what they need to do to return to winning ways in Vancouver this week.
After coming agonisingly close to playing in their third consecutive final, the Blitzboks surprisingly lost their semi-final clash to Argentina 12-10 before losing the bronze medal match 26-22 to Fiji at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday (Monday morning South African time).
As disappointing as it would have been for Neil Powell’s men not to lift another piece of silverware this season (they won the first tournament of the season in Dubai), they did manage to open up a 10 point lead in the overall series standings to second placed New Zealand.
And the Blitzboks will also be better off in Vancouver for the time Powell afforded to the youngsters in the side as they featured prominently in the pool win against England, played well against Australia in the quarter-finals and would have learnt a valuable lesson from their disjointed effort against Argentina.
The likes of Ryan Oosthuizen, Muller du Plessis and Selvyn Davids will again need to add their weight behind the team’s efforts in Vancouver where the Blitzbokke will be faced with the old foe New Zealand in the pool stages along with Scotland and Russia.
“The positive two things we are taking out of the tournament is the experience that the young guys got and the fact that we could extend our lead on the leaderboard,” Powell said afterwards.
“Ja again when we review ourselves after a tournament it’s never about the results, it’s all about the effort and how the guys implement their individual roles in a tournament. I think happy with the four out of the six games.
"The one against Wales a slow start and we didn’t perform like we would have liked to. Then the one against Argentina, we were not clinical enough, not enough attention to detail and we got one or two technical areas wrong that cost us the game. But the effort against Fiji I can’t fault the guys even the new guys that got the opportunity to play against Fiji did really well.”
If Powell’s charges are to repeat their heroics of last season and again be crowned world champions then they will have to get some consistency back in winning tournaments.
The Blitzbokke have come short on four occasions now, twice losing in the final in Sydney and Hamilton while failing to go beyond the semi-finals in Cape Town and Las Vegas.
While Powell, the only person to have won the world series as a player and coach, is desperate to see his side open up daylight between themselves and other teams on the circuit, there is also the appreciation of how competitive this season’s series has become with five different teams being crowned tournament champions.
“We are going to have to look at this week and see how we can get the most out of it. I think a fine balance in making sure that the guys are ready and re-energized for the tournament and also still do the work and be happy with our training sessions leading up to the tournament," Powell added.
"It’s going to be another tough tournament, it’s always going to be tough out there. But it’s showed that there is five different winners from five different tournaments that everyone is competitive and capable of winning tournaments now.”