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Blitzboks staying humble in Vancouver

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“JC has played in every tournament and has clocked the most minutes of everyone in the squad, so he will be managed a bit this weekend”

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has made one rotational change to his squad that won the LA Sevens for the tournament in Vancouver, swopping the roles of Mfundo Ndhlovu and JC Pretorius (pictured).

Ndhlovu has been the squad’s 13th player all through the series and is now to be given game time in place of the over-played Pretorius, who becomes the official reserve.

Pretorius has been impressive in recent tournaments, winning Dream Team selections in both Sydney and Los Angeles, but Powell said the decision taken to rest the energetic forward was done with the best interest of the squad and the player at heart.

“JC has played in every tournament and has clocked the most minutes of everyone in the squad, so he will be managed a bit this weekend,” said Powell.

“As 13th player, you could end up playing in five matches or none, as it happened with Mfundo in Los Angeles. Just as much as JC needs a bit of a break, Mfundo needs some time out on the field having returned from injury, so the swop was actually an easy one to make.”

The switch will also see the role of Angelo Davids change from last weekend. Davids has started to double up as hooker when not playing on the wing and he will be more involved in the forwards in the Pool A clashes with Japan, Argentina and England tomorrow (Canada time).

“We are busy grooming Angelo to become a utility player for us and he will get more game time at hooker for us at the tournament.

“Despite last weekend’s success, we need to start all over again in our approach and attitude in Vancouver,” said Powell, adding that the Blitzboks enjoy the sixth stop on the World Series.

“Vancouver is a happy place for us, having won here last year and personally, I love the city and the people, so we are keen to get going.

“The challenges will be different from last week and it will be more of a mindset thing. You are always keen to improve when you did not perform well in a previous tournament. But if you won, as we did, the challenge becomes more mental.

“We need to remain humble after the win and work even harder during the week, and I hope the squad picked that up from us as management.”

According to Powell, the uncertainty surrounding big sporting events in the next couple of months due to the coronavirus outbreak makes it easier for them to focus on the Canadian tournament.

“We don’t know what is going to happen, so it makes no sense to worry about it,” he said.

“What we do know is that we need to put in our best effort this week and be ready to play at our very best this weekend. For that, we can prepare and that is where our focus will be.”

Blitzboks’ schedule

Tomorrow: 8.06pm vs Japan; 11.18pm vs Argentina

Sunday: 2.30am vs England