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Blitzboks up the tempo ahead of new season
- Updated: November 22, 2015
The Springbok Sevens training squad concluded two days of high intensive training matches against local club sides in Stellenbosch at the weekend as the Blitzboks shifted to a higher gear in their final preparation for the start of the new season.
Springboks such as Francois Hougaard, Oupa Mohoje and Lwazi Mvovo got their first taste of full competitive Sevens matches since joining the training squad in Stellenbosch, when they took part in a series of training clashes against local club sides.
They were joined by other 15-a-side provincial stars such as Rayno Benjamin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe (both DHL Western Province), who have been training with the national Sevens squad over the last few weeks.
Meanwhile, Warren Whiteley has returned to the Xerox Golden Lions after he sustained a calf injury earlier in the week. The injury has ruled the No8 out of action for 10 days and will continue his rehabilitation in Johannesburg.
The Maties, Ikeys, Cape University of Technology (CPUT) and the Score Living Legends did their best to provide the Blitzboks training group with quality opposition over the weekend and the Stellenbosch rugby fans were treated to some exciting action at the Paul Roos Markotter Stadium.
Following the two days’ intensive training matches, Powell said he was very pleased with the progress of his training group in the serious build-up to the start of the season.
He explained the main objective of the training drill was to test the structure of the team and to see how the newcomers would slot into the Bok Sevens’ playing system.
‘Overall, I am very pleased with the exercise and the new guys have really worked hard to adopt to our system,’ said Powell. He added: ‘I am also pleased that we came through with no injuries, which shows our level of conditioning is good.”
According to Powell he will focus next week on the final detail of the team’s game plan. He also admitted it will be a tough job to select the final 12-man squad for Dubai.
‘This is a very strong and competitive group and each player is showing such a strong desire to be in the squad for Dubai and Cape Town,’ said Powell. Furthermore, the coach also revealed he has roped in several experts during the past few weeks in an effort to sharpen the skills of the group.
‘It is important that we continue to stretch ourselves as a group. Marco Wentzel was here to tweak our lineout play, Dawie Snyman (junior) assisted us with our running lines and Richie Gray (a member of the Springbok Mobi-Unit) gave us incredible advice with his knowledge of the breakdown area,’ explained Powell.
In addition to that, the players also underwent regular altitude training in an effort to ensure they will be in top condition when the season kicks off next month in Dubai.
The all-important season sees an extension of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series to 10 iconic cities worldwide, including London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Vancouver and Cape Town. It also features the return of Sevens Rugby to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
The 2015/16 World Series kicks off on 4-5 December in the desert city of Dubai, where the Blitzboks will be defending their title. The 16 teams then travel to South Africa for the inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens in the Mother City, where all tickets have been sold out in anticipation of the exciting showpiece.
Powell is set to announce his 12-man squad for Dubai on Wednesday, as well as a SARU Sevens Academy team which will participate in the Dubai International invitational event.
Picture courtesy of Thys Lombard