Blitzboks forget the 'SBW factor'

Neil Powell (Gallo Images)
Neil Powell (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - Forget Sonny Bill Williams, the Blitzboks need to take things one game at a time.

That's the message from Blitzbok coach Neil Powell as his side prepares to take on the rest of the rugby world at the Wellington Sevens this weekend.

Powell is all too aware of the magnitude of their task, even though they won the last tournament on the HSBC circuit in Cape Town, and the fact that they now have a target on their backs.

New Zealand have brought out their big guns this weekend, especially after their mediocre performance in Cape Town, a performance that has left them drawn with the Blitzboks, Scotland and Russia in the same group.

Not only do the Kiwis have Sonny Bill Williams - double 15s World Cup winner in their ranks - but also the Ardie Savea and the Ioane brothers Akira and Rieko in their squad.

And while all the hype has surrounded the arrival of SBW on the Sevens stage this weekend, the Blitzboks are not getting carried away by the danger posed by the All Black star.

Often teams seem to lose focus in Sevens if they concentrate on one player, leaving them vulnerable in other areas and coach Powell is all too aware of this.

"They only made the names available earlier this week, so we knew he was in the bigger squad," Powell said.

"We didn't know he would play in Wellington, we suspected it but we only found out this week. But then again, we are going to make a big mistake if we only focus against New Zealand, the first game against Scotland is very important to us.

"Scotland play a very different brand of rugby and they are coached well. They are always motivated well when they go onto the field. But if we don't get all our focus and our energy on that first game, we might find ourselves in trouble.

"Hopefully we will get through that one successfully and by the time we get to New Zealand in the third game, we will be able to analyse the first two games they played and hopefully we can work out a plan on how to play against them."

Powell said that while the draw was tough, what was more important was to see how well the team would do in Wellington in terms of their own upward curve, especially with the ultimate goal of the Rio Olympics in mind.

"We don't focus on the results, if we are happy with our effort and our performance that we give on the field, then we are happy. In Dubai I was happy with the guys' effort, but unfortunately the results didn't go our way. But it is the same for Wellington and Sydney, we need to throw guys like Juan, Hougi, Benji and Cheslin into the tournaments and let them play against the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, because that is what we can expect when we go to Rio in August," he added.

"For us it is more about the performance and the effort and learn as much about playing against the big names in the competition and to learn as much as possible from the opposition because they are likely to make up the team going to Rio in August. Momentum is key and success is also key, but for us if we're happy with the performance, we will also be happy."

The Springbok Sevens squad to New Zealand and Australia (all SA Rugby contracted unless specified):

Chris Dry (46 World Series tournaments)

Philip Snyman (32, captain)
Carel du Preez (3)
Kwagga Smith (17)
Sandile Ngcobo (0)
Francois Hougaard (2)
Cheslin Kolbe (10)
Dylan Sage (1)
Justin Geduld (20)
Rosko Specman (7)
Seabelo Senatla (21
Juan de Jongh (3)

Read the story on

Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
45% - 5529 votes
11% - 1371 votes
18% - 2290 votes
2% - 277 votes
1% - 107 votes
2% - 278 votes
5% - 609 votes
8% - 976 votes
3% - 390 votes
Water sports
1% - 109 votes
American sports
1% - 117 votes
3% - 359 votes