The Blitzboks do not have their one eye on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series log all the time, but they are pretty aware that they need to improve on their performance this weekend when the HSBC Canada Sevens take place in BC Place, Vancouver.
The South Africans are fifth on the log after five tournaments in the 2018/19 series and according to Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, the aim at the start of the season was a top four finish as that would guarantee qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
“The focus is not on the log, but you cannot ignore it,” Powell said as the team finished their preparations for the Vancouver tournament.
“We want to finish in the top four as this was always a target, so we realise that we need to perform at our best to achieve that. We are only happy when we contest finals and some of our placings this year were not good enough.”
Powell feels an improved showing in Canada will help aid the Blitzboks’ quest, adding that the team have done well in some areas last week.
“We will continue chasing our best efforts and if we can play at our best, the outcomes will reflect that,” he said.
“We showed improvement in some areas in Las Vegas – our effort on defence was very good and only New Zealand had better defensive stats than us. We can still improve though, but need to work harder in other areas. Giving possession away was the crucial element last week.
“The feedback from last weekend showed that the USA, who won the tournament in Las Vegas, had the best ball retention stats. So that is something we need to do better with if we want to improve our performance.”
The Blitzboks face Chile, Wales and USA in Canada. They drew with Chile in Las Vegas and conceded five tries against USA in a 29-10 loss.
“It is not an easy group. Chile will take confidence from last weekend’s performance against us and will be up for it, no doubt. We have not played Wales since Las Vegas last year, can you believe, so need to focus on how we want to play in that match.”
The USA will again be a big test, Powell said.
“The final match in the pool is the USA, who we also played for the first time in this series in Las Vegas,” said Powell.
“We now know a bit more of what they can bring. They are a very good side, having played in all five finals of the series this far, but we will be ready with a plan. We know how we want to play, it is all about execution.”
Leading try scorer, Siviwe Soyizwapi, said they needed to sharpen up their attacking skills this week.
“We did well on defence in Vegas, but our attack was not as good as it could be,” he said.
“We just need to get to that happy place again where we play for each other, play as brothers, and then the team play well. That click will come. We are working hard and that moment when it all comes together is not far off.”
The pools for the HSBC Canada Sevens are:
A: USA, South Africa, Chile, Wales
B: Samoa, Fiji, Kenya, Canada
C: New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Kenya
D: Argentina, England, Scotland, Japan