Blitzboks to start afresh at Sydney Sevens
It’s important to acknowledge your mistakes and to go out and fix them, just don’t dwell on those wrongs for too long.
Those are Springbok Sevens workhorse Werner Kok’s views, at least, following their fourth-place finish at the Hamilton leg of the 2018/19 World Sevens Series at the weekend.
The Blitzboks went into the two-day event in fifth spot on the overall standings after they had to be satisfied with sixth place in Dubai and a third-place finish in Cape Town.
And while the New Zealand tournament saw Neil Powell’s men crack into the top four spots on the log (the top four teams will gain automatic qualification to the Tokyo Olympics), it’s some of their on-field productions on day two at the Waikato Stadium that understandably caused some unhappiness.
Following their Cup quarter-final win over Samoa, the Blitzboks hurt themselves in the semi against Fiji and subsequently in the third-place play-off against the hosts (the Blitzboks lost both matches 29-7).
Against Fiji they didn’t play a big part on attack and were kept to a mostly defensive role, while the turnovers they conceded made the 14-minute proceedings an even less pleasant one.
Yellow cards against both the Fijians and the Kiwis also didn’t make their job any easier, and the All Blacks Sevens team’s “stretch and attack” approach also did the trick again as they did well to stretch the South Africans’ defence and capitalise on the resulting errors.
But that’s all done now as the focus shifts to the fourth of 10 tournaments, according to Kok.
“We need to forget about Hamilton and start afresh in Sydney,” said Kok.
“We have to clear the minds, warm the hearts and make sure South Africa is proud of us at the end of the weekend. We have a week to fix things and we have to use the time to do that.”
Kok also made mention of the void that was left by the departure of a number of experienced players, but he was quick to point out that it’s another opportunity for the newer guys to make the step-up, and that it should be seen as such.
“There are less experienced guys in the squad this time around, but that does not change our attitude of making the country proud,” said Kok.
“The quality of guys such as Rosko Specman, Ruhan Nel and Dylan Sage were undisputed and you don’t replace players like them overnight. It does not have to be a deterrent to the younger guys though.
“You train hard, hoping to get the chance once an experienced player is not there anymore. That is the opportunity for the next guy.”
“It was disappointing how we played at times. Some basics were not adhered to and that is something you cannot do.
“It is about the squad, but it will start with each individual taking ownership of the mistakes and then going out there to rectify it and make sure that it does not happen again.
“It is still early in the series, but we need to start stepping up.”
The Blitzboks will face Australia, Argentina and Tonga in Pool D of the event to be held at the Sydney Showground Stadium on Saturday and