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Sevens team focused

By Mark Etheridge

Despite Team South Africa’s trophy cupboard still being bare seven days into the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, Sevens Rugby coach Paul Treu says the team feels no extra pressure.

Along with lifesaving and waterskiing (both of which are now underway), the sevens code represents South Africa’s best medal hope.

“No, I don’t think there’s any greater pressure on us now,” said Treu, a veteran of two World Games in Japan (2001) and Germany (2005).

“Apart from the fact that we’re now part of Team SA, nothing is different. We are used to playing tournaments and it’s all part of the learning curve. I’d like to think that we know by now to focus on our games etc and not be affected by any external factors.”

“We’ve had a very good week’s training. By now all the guys are acclimatised to the heat and humidity so we’re ready to go.”

Utility back Paul Delport joined the team yesterday to replace Western Province’s Gio Aplon who was cited in last week’s Currie Cup action against the Bulls.

“Paul is a regular with the squad in Stellenbosch so he simply slotted in,” said Treu. “We started him in our training game against Japan Wednesday and he was OK.”

The game against Japan was the side’s third match. It was nothing more than a hard run-around with no scores taken, but Treu said the games were invaluable.

“We needed game time because we haven’t played opponents since the last tournament at the end of May. So these games were very important.”

There have been mutterings about the playing surface at the impressive Kaohsiung City, scene of the opening ceremony last Thursday, but Treu says it should be fine.

“It’s a fairly even stadium but quite patchy because of the opening ceremony and the fact that they also played the flying disc event there. The ground-staff put some sort of gravel over the surface which we weren’t very happy with but they say they are going to water it well which should help things.”

South Africa play three Pool games on Friday, against hosts Chinese Taipei, Portugal and finally the United States.

The teams making up the other pool are Fiji (winners at the last two World Games after beating SA in the final), Argentina, Japan and China.