There’s no doubting that the Blitzboks rugby sevens side are feeling the pressure as they bid to maintain or even extend their lead at the top of the World Series standings this weekend in Glasgow, Scotland.
With only two tournaments left in the HSBC World Sevens Series the Blitzboks have an overall lead of a mere four points and thus all to play for in Glasgow and London.
Captain Kyle Brown makes no bones about this fact as the team prepared for the Scotstoun Stadium tournament. ‘It’s difficult not to feel it when there is so much talk about it.
‘It’s going to be very important to create the kind of environment that helps the players to deal with the pressure and be able to play with freedom so that they can do their best.”
Current coach Neil Powell was still playing the last time the Blitzboks won the World Series. That was in 2008/09. Last year Brown and Co were also overall leaders of the series for a while before New Zealand went on to take the honours.
Powell made two changes to the squad that played in the final of the Tokyo tournament. Philip Snyman and Stephan Dippenaar are back from injury. Snyman replaces Carel du Preez and Justin Geduld makes way for Dippenaar.
Said Brown ‘It’s really good to have Philip back in the team. He is such a workhorse and a big part of the leadership group. Dippies covers various positions and that makes him such a key player to have. He also always just keeps going no matter what. Ruhan Nel is in the squad as a centre. He is a wing in the 15-man game so I can’t wait to see him get the ball in full flight.’
A big milestone this weekend will be reached by Branco du Preez when he plays in his 40th tournament. Meanwhile, Frankie Horne is also still extending his record of consecutive tournaments and will play in his 67th this weekend.
South Africa’s Pool B fixtures on Saturday are:
11:58am v Samoa
3:04pm v Kenya
6:37pm v New Zealand.
The full squad is (tournament caps in brackets): Chris Dry (42); Philip Snyman (30); Frankie Horne (66); Kwagga Smith (13); Werner Kok (16); Kyle Brown (captain, 46); Branco du Preez (39); Stephan Dippenaar (23); Ruhan Nel (4); Cecil Afrika (37); Seabelo Senatla (17); Rosko Specman (4).