This Springbok Sevens team have the right mix of experience, youthful exuberance and proven skill to make the 2018/19 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series a telling one. And Blitzbok captain Philip Snyman feels the slower than usual start to the season could just be the spark to fire up his team this weekend at the HSBC New Zealand Sevens tournament in Hamilton.
Snyman, South Africa’s most successful Blitzbok captain ever, will lead his side out at the FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday and Sunday. The 30-year-old celebrated three World Series titles (two as captain) with the Blitzboks since 2008 and feels the current squad can deliver the goods despite some serious discrepancies in experience, age and tournaments in the side.
Snyman (56 tournaments) will be heavily supported by the likes of Kyle Brown (67 tournaments), Chris Dry (64 tournaments) and Branco du Preez (63 tournaments), but it is rather the exciting potential of the likes of Impi Visser (2 tournaments), Selvyn Davids (7 tournaments) and Dewald Human (6 tournaments) that has the captain optimistic.
“The SA Rugby Sevens Academy has produced some real talent in recent years,” said Snyman.
“We have lost the likes of Rosko Specman, Dylan Sage and Tim Agaba from last year’s team and still have a couple of injured players back home, but all the right ingredients are in this year’s group to make it successful again.
“The old hands know what is needed and the young ones will bring it on. The fact that we had a slower start was a good thing as this time around we will pick up speed and gather momentum as we train and play together more and more.
“In previous years, we had fast starts and had to hold on towards the end of the season. This time it looks to be the other way around,” predicted the experienced captain.
Snyman missed last year’s trip to New Zealand due to injury and will play in Hamilton for the first time. The various team captains visited Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia, the official residence and reception centre of the Māori King, on Wednesday and to Snyman it was another special memory in his stellar career.
“It was special to share this with the captains today, no doubt,” said Snyman.
“It is also wonderful to play in the tournament this weekend where Kyle Brown will equal Frankie Horne’s record of 68 World Series tournaments and great to have Chris Dry back as well, after more than a year on the sidelines. I never had serious injuries, while Kyle and Chris did, so it will be a superb feeling to run out with both them yet again.”
The South Africans face Kenya, France and Scotland in Pool C and Snyman said his team talk will be an easy one: “We trained hard the last couple of weeks. We need to leave all the emotions and personal achievements behind and go and execute.”
The Blitzboks’ schedule for the first day is (SA times, all matches on SuperSport):
Friday, 25 January at 23h22: vs Kenya
Saturday 26 January at 03h10: vs France
Saturday 26 January at 07h22: vs Scotland