The traditional start to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has been restored with the 2022 season kicking off in Dubai in a month’s time, and Neil Powell and his Springbok Sevens team are ready to travel and play.
The South Africans returned from Canada with gold after the shortened 2021 series took place in Vancouver and Edmonton, and Powell and the Blitzboks are now firmly focussed on Dubai, where a double header of tournaments awaits.
“We hardly played for 18 months and apart from the Olympic Games we had no tournaments, so we don’t mind the new season starting so soon after returning from Canada,” Powell explained.
“In fact, we used those two tournaments as part of our preparation for the two Dubai events.”
The Blitzboks were immaculate in their execution in Canada and won all 12 the matches they played, but Powell is never one to rest on his laurels.
“We gave the guys a couple of weeks off after Canada, but we have now returned with Dubai pretty much in our sights,” said Powell.
“We will have an intense conditioning and fitness focus in the coming weeks, will give the guys a short break again. They will then return for the final training block of two weeks before departure, where the focus will be on playing tactics.”
Powell is happy to welcome back a couple of stalwarts, who could not travel to Canada due to injury: “Branco du Preez and Justin Geduld were not available and Selvyn Davids only came in for the second tournament in Edmonton, so it is great to have them in contention for the two Dubai tournaments.
“We will also have Mfundo Ndhlovu back, who was desperately unlucky to pick up an injury just before the Olympics, and I am pretty keen to see him back and getting as much game time as possible.”
Powell will be without Sako Makata though, who was one of the casualties in Edmonton. However, Angelo Davids, who had to return home after breaking the individual try-scoring record for the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver, should be fit for selection.
“We should have a very competitive team in Dubai, and I am happy with the players who should be available for the trip. That said, we still have some hard work in the coming weeks if we want to deliver a competitive performance in Dubai,” added Powell.