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Blitzboks got just the right medicine

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The Blitzboks’ pre-season may have been “gruelling”, but Siviwe Soyizwapi believes it’s exactly what they needed to make sure they emulate the success they achieved over the last two seasons.

Shakes Soyizwapi of South Africa during the South Africa Sevens Rugby Mens Training session at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town on 6 December 2016 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

The Blitzboks’ pre-season may have been “gruelling”, but Siviwe Soyizwapi believes it’s exactly what they needed to make sure they emulate the success they achieved over the last two seasons.

Neil Powell’s Springbok Sevens side will kick off their 2018/19 World Sevens Series campaign against Zimbabwe (10:52am SA time) in Dubai tomorrow morning, before concluding their Day One proceedings against Samoa and Argentina in Pool A.

“The pre-season went really well, the guys are feeling fit,” he said.

“I think when we look back at all the hard training you appreciate it, even though it’s gruelling in the moment. Every little bit of it adds to your success.”

After winning back-to-back World Series titles, it’s not too hard to figure out exactly why the Blitzboks are going into the opening leg with a red ‘X’, in bold, on the back of their jumpers.

But the tactics that have taken them all the way to the top isn’t necessarily the only arsenal the Blitzboks will make use of in this weekend’s two-day event.

“Our team is blessed with coaches who think outside the box. We play the same nations every year and they pick up what you do,” Soyizwapi said, referring to the extras they’ve worked on during the pre-season.

The defending World Series champions will be without a number of their past regulars who have switched to the 15-man game, and while Soyizwapi said the newer guys have slotted in well, his goal for the pre-season – and going forward – was to make sure that he guides the Blitzboks’ young blood, just like he was helped when he joined the set-up.

“All the guys who left are talented guys who brought a lot to the team. I think they’ll be missed but the new guys have fitted in well. Like coach always says – the system will look after you if you look after it. When I came in guys like Cecil (Afrika) Branco (du Preez) and Rosko (Specman) showed me the ropes and I’m just trying to give back by helping out the new guys, like you should in a team.

“We really trust the system, if an individual doesn’t buy in, the system slowly works him out. But I really believe that eveybody who’s here is willing to do what the system requires of them.”

One of those new guys is Muller du Plessis, who has played in only four tournaments with the Blitzboks.

It will be the 19-year-old former Western Province Craven Week player’s first Dubai event with the Springbok Sevens – one that he sees as a special place for the Blitzboks.

“We learnt so much from the more experienced guys. The new guys bring a lot of energy and I think it’s a good combination,” Du Plessis said.

“I only joined this season, so I’m looking forward to Dubai, they say it’s an awesome tournament. South Africa have a good record there, so it’s a special place for us. The older players are always motivating us, so that’s a nice culture we have. We’re really excited.”