Cape Town - Springbok
Sevens stalwart PHILIP SNYMAN shares
his dream of playing at the Olympics, his views on South Africa’s Super Rugby
sides and spills the beans on some of his teammates…
Sport24 asked: Ahead of Hong Kong and Singapore, what have been the points of focus?
Philip Snyman: We have been working tirelessly on improving our discipline because over the last couple of tournaments it has cost us dearly. We have had some hard and honest conversations as a collective in the team room about our ill-discipline at times in the heat of the moment. It’s not just about conceding penalties and yellow cards. For example, in the Vancouver final against New Zealand, I must admit we didn’t completely stick to the game plan that was given to us by coach Neil Powell. If the coach hands us a game plan, all the players must buy into that. Unfortunately, we didn’t do exactly what was expected of us and the result showed that in the end. However, we are determined to correct the mistakes we have made. As far as our preparation is concerned, it’s always a fine balancing act in terms of what you need to improve in your game and what you want to keep on the same level.
Sport24 asked: What are your expectations for the Hong Kong leg and the title run-in?
Philip Snyman: Hong Kong is historically a difficult tournament for us and you can never take any game for granted. But it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, if we stick to our standards and do what works for us, then I feel the results will look after themselves. On the first day of the Hong Kong leg (this Friday on SuperSport) we need to lay a strong foundation for the rest of the tournament and build from that base. If we play in or win the final it will put us in a good position to take the lead on the overall standings. At present, its neck-a-neck between ourselves, Fiji and New Zealand in the race for first place. Four tournaments remain, and some team will soon break away from the rest. Hopefully that team will be us.
Sport24 asked: What have been the cornerstones of the side’s success in recent times?
Philip Snyman: We pride ourselves on defence – and with a strong defence you can control the outcome of the game. We have a silly saying: “If the opposition can’t score a try against you, at least you’ll draw the game.” While defence is one of our key principles, we are fortunate in that we have some brilliant attacking players within our team. We must continue with the normal flair that we play with, be aggressive come ruck time and smart on defence. In terms of team culture, l can honestly say that I’ve never been part of any other team or system that is as special as the current Blitzbok set-up. I believe it comes down to the quality of the people within the squad and the sacrifices that we make for one another.
Sport24 asked: After six rounds of Super Rugby, your impressions from an SA perspective?
Philip Snyman: Three South Africa teams have stood out for me – the Lions, Stormers and Sharks. The Lions have a well-balanced squad and have been playing really good rugby for a number of seasons now. They have kept the core of their squad together for a couple of years. Meanwhile, the Stormers have a brilliant defensive system and with players like Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh in their ranks they are capable of devastating any defence. On any given day, if the Stormers have enough ball in hand, they’ll make it difficult for the opposition. If we analyse the Bulls and Cheetahs, it’s clear that both teams are still in a building phase and are trying to play a new brand of rugby. It’s difficult to compete every weekend against world-class teams. While my former team, the Cheetahs, have only managed to win one game so far this season, there are some exciting youngsters coming through and putting up their hands. Francois Venter is playing some of the best rugby of his career and if he continues with this form, I believe he’ll see the green and gold jersey in the near future. He is a fantastic talent and it proves the future of South African rugby is bright.
Sport24 asked: Have the players embraced the competition for places in an Olympic year?
Philip Snyman: Yes. It has been good to get in quality 15-man players. We have had the likes of Bryan Habana, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard and, most recently, Ryan Kankowski join the mix. I have found that the men originally from the 15-man code bring something new to the system and, as a player, you are never too old to learn from their experiences. It’s also about building a bigger core of players towards the Olympics. The main goal for the season is certainly the Olympic Games, but we have to stay focused on our short to medium term goals because there is the World Series in front of us and the title is still up for grabs. But when the Rio Olympics arrives in August, we will be sound in the knowledge that we have plenty of depth and quality players to fulfil the objective. It’s already special just being part of the bigger pre-Olympics group and, for me, competing at the Olympics would prove the pinnacle of my career. And winning a medal for my country would be a dream come true.
Sport24 asked: Give us the inside scoop on your team-mates away from the four lines…
Philip Snyman: We have quite a few characters in the side. Chris Dry is definitely the best rapper, and my vote for the best singer goes to Kyle Brown when he sings an Afrikaans song. Believe it or not, he has one or two Afrikaans songs up his sleeve. Seabelo Senatla and Branco du Preez definitely have the most rhythm and are by far the best dancers in the team. Justin Geduld and Rosco Speckman think they can dance, but if they stand next to Seabelo and Branco they just look silly. Meanwhile, myself, Kyle and Kwagga Smith are big coffee lovers and Justin has put his dancing shoes away and has now joined us coffee snobs.