The rest is over and now its time for rugby, rugby and more rugby for the South African sevens side.
The Blitzboks’ preparation for the upcoming season switched to a higher gear on Monday when they resumed training in Stellenbosch after a short break.
The players underwent their routine medical check-ups in the morning and were then put through a series of high intensity skills drills in the Paul Roos Markötter indoor training centre.
A lunchtime media interview session was followed by a strenuous workout session in the gym in the afternoon.
The side finished second on the HSBC Sevens World Series standings last season and capped a great season by winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Coach Neil Powell led the Bok Sevens to five consecutive finals last year, winning two tournament titles along the way.
An extra incentive for the teams this season is the four qualifying places on offer for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to Powell the Bok Sevens will use the next two weeks to sharpen their readiness before their departure early next month to Australia for the season-opening tournament at the Gold Coast on 11-12 October. Part of this preparation includes a series of training matches next week against some local clubs at their training base in Stellenbosch.
‘It’s really great to have the guys back and you could see the focus and the intensity during today’s the training sessions,’ said Powell.
The coach added: ‘Our motto is to keep on working extremely hard so that we approach each tournament in very good condition. We managed to finish the season on a high note in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games, and it will be my job to make sure our feet are planted firmly on the ground and that we don’t get too carried away or too far ahead of ourselves.
‘We all know the World Series is a very tough and demanding competition and that the pressure will increase even more now that there are four spots on offer to play at the Olympic Games in Rio,” said Powell.
Several regular Blitzbok stalwarts are currently on duty in the Absa Currie Cup competition, South Africa’s premier domestic rugby competition. They are: try scoring sensation Seabelo Senatla, Justin Geduld (both at DHL Western Province), Kwagga Smith, Mark Richards (both Xerox Golden Lions) and Jamba Ulengo (Vodacom Blue Bulls).
Meanwhile the draw for the opening tournament in Australia was made on Tuesday and South Africa have been slotted into Pool B where they will come up against Wales, newcomers American Samoa and fellow African side Kenya.
Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA