Blitzbokke set to hit their straps

Tue, 19 Nov 2013 13:19
Blitzbokke-celebrate630 Neil-powell-interviewed
Hopefully we can go one or two better than we did at the Gold Coast

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell is hoping to have a full-strength squad at his disposal for the upcoming tournaments in Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

Powell got his career as Blitzbokke coach off to a steady start when his side claimed fourth place at the Gold Coast Sevens after a dramatic extra-time semifinal defeat to hosts Australia, but he has his sights set on higher honours in the coming weeks.

The Dubai tournament is less than two weeks away and will be followed by the home leg at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, so Powell is keen for his team to start hitting their stride.

The Blitzbokke coach told this website that apart from injuries to Branco du Preez and Phillip Snyman his squad, which has just been bolstered by the recall of Western Province flyer Cheslin Kolbe, is looking fit and ready for a testing schedule in December.

"Dubai and PE is a big one for us. Preparations have gone well, to be honest we have been quite lucky with injuries. There are still a few guys that are 50/50.

"Branco du Preez and Phillip Snyman are still recovering but we are holding thumbs that they will be ready for Dubai and PE," he said.

Powell's charges have been preparing by taking on Cape Universities Maties, UCT and UWC in a series of training matches, and Powell said that it was extremely valuable in giving some of the fringe players game-time, with UWC even managing to win one of the matches.

"It went pretty well, I think Maties with Ian Campbell-McGeachy coaching there is always a strong side and they get better and better as they get more structure which is exactly what we want.

"I think UWC are much better, they actually beat us when we played them with our least experienced squad with a lot of youngsters so it was a good eye-opener for them. It showed that if you don't play hard every time the universities will come out and beat you," he said.

However, Powell's focus is now squarely on their next assignment in the World Series as they look to improve on their showing at the Gold Coast when the fatigue factor derailed their challenge for the title.

"We are really looking forward, I think we have a good squad and hopefully we can go one or two better than we did at the Gold Coast," he said.