With the Springbok Sevens team for the Emirates Dubai Sevens, the opening leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, to be named next Friday, the most experienced player in the team, Chris Dry, admits that competition within the squad is huge.
The Blitzboks are looking for a repeat of their 2016/17 success in the World Series, when they claimed the overall title, and will return to Dubai as the defending champions. The tournament has proved a happy hunting ground for South Africa in recent years and Dry indicated that all players are pushing hard to make the final team.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has all but the injured Dylan Sage available from his regular squad, including the likes of Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla, who only played in the first four tournaments of the last series.
The Blitzboks have also been boosted by the arrival of Sikhumbuzo Notshe, a regular starter for the DHL Stormers in Vodacom Super Rugby, who like Dry, is also a forward.
“It has been a great couple of weeks in camp and the guys have really being putting in the hard work,” said Dry after the team closed out their second last week of preparation before departing for Dubai next Sunday.
“We were pushing new boundaries and I think the fact that there is so much competition for slots in the team contributed to that.
“There are lots of experienced players in the squad yes, but we are being pushed by some very talented youngsters, something that is very important in the continued development of the squad.”
Dry, who was named in the World Series Dream Team last season, played for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup, but has now shifted his focus on making the Blitzboks team to play in Dubai.
“It has been an exciting camp so far – Dubai is around the corner and the guys are looking to deliver a good performance again,” said Dry.
“Still, there is some work to be done and we will again put in the hard yards next week, in our final week of prep before we leave for Dubai.”
The 29-year-old, who has played in 62 tournaments, could achieve some personal milestones in the new series, including that of becoming the most capped Blitzbok of all time, a record that is currently held by Frankie Horne, with 68.
Dry is also closing in on 300 matches for the team (298) and 100 tries (91), but those are far from his mind.
“No change of me worrying about those stats,” he said.
“It always was and always will be team first and when I get to those numbers mentioned, I will get there and perhaps reflect. For now, it is about making the squad and then the focus will move on to Dubai and our first pool match.”
The Springbok Sevens team will be announced in Stellenbosch on Friday, 24 November.