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Small steps for Springbok Women’s Sevens in Dubai

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Delport, in his first year in charge of the team, has not been shy to experiment with playing styles and personnel as he looks to find the best fit.

Coach Paul Delport will be looking to experiment with combinations in order to find the best fit ahead of the Olympic Games. Photo: World Rugby

For Springbok Women’s Sevens coach, Paul Delport, the performances of his charges at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens Invitational tournament today and tomorrow will be a change in direction, rather than a step back when they take on teams from Wales, Kazakhstan and Japan on the opening day.

Delport, in his first year in charge of the team, has not been shy to experiment with playing styles and personnel as he looks to find the best fit to be a competitive outfit and the Dubai trip will be more of the same. Their next objective will be qualifying for the Olympic Games in Japan in 2020 and that journey starts at The Sevens Stadium.

“We lost four starting players to national fifteens duty, so this was as good a time as any to experiment a bit and see what the new players can bring,” said Delport.

The coach selected six newcomers in the squad for the trip; and while experienced campaigners such as Marithy Pienaar, Zenay Jordaan, Mathrin Simmers and Nadine Roos will provide valuable direction and guile, it will be the performances of the débutantes that will point him to the future.

“That is why this tournament is important for us,” said Delport of that.

“We need to improve and become better all the time and part of that process will be to have a close look at our playing personnel. One of our aims is to build depth and this is an amazing opportunity for the new players to show that they can compete at this level and environment.”

The coach is not chasing the gold at the end of the rainbow in Dubai and he believes their opponents will provide a stern test in the desert.

“I have a good idea where we are as a team and where we can go, hence the importance of the performances by the new players,” he said.

“First up is Wales, who are also rebuilding but they beat us the last time we played, and the ladies from Kazakhstan are really strong. Then we will also face one of the two teams the Japanese have sent. They have just dropped off the World Series, so I am not sure which of their teams we will face, but they have played at a level above us last season, so it will be tough.”

SA fixtures today:

6.40am: vs Wales

10am: vs Almaty Women RFC

1pm: vs Arukas Queen

Springbok Women’s Sevens team

Courtney Groener, Nokuthla Nene, Buhle Sonamzi, Sizo Solontsi, Zenay Jordaan, Voice Ndou, Eloise Webb, Claudine Marais, Nadine Roos, Mathrin Simmers, Ayanda Malinga, Marithy Pienaar (captain)

African News Agency (ANA)