Depth a priority for Powell
Mon, 12 May 2014 14:15
Neil Powell has admitted that he needs to improve the depth of his squad to make them more competitive next season.
Prior to Tokyo, the Blitzbokke pushed New Zealand all the way at the top of the leaderboard and at some point even overtook the eventual winners at the top of the log.
However, the trip to the Far East eventually took a heavy toll on the team, after several regulars such as Kyle Brown and Cecil Afrika were ruled out of action because of injury.
Stephan Dippenaar also joined the casualty list in Glasgow.
Powell had to call on rookie Shaun Adendorff and the relatively inexperienced WJ Strydom to plug the gaps.
Mark Richards was also thrown into the fray, having last played for the Springbok Sevens last October.
Powell said the team especially missed the influential figures of regular captain, Brown, and experienced playmaker Afrika.
“Look we definitely missed Kyle [Brown] and Cecil [Afrika] in Glasgow, while we had Stephan [Dippenaar] injured in Glasgow and unavailable for London," explained Powell.
"On top of that, we also lost Werner Kok with an ankle injury on Sunday in London.
“However, I am making no excuses for our below par performances in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Scotland.
"In London, we always knew it was going to be tough to play a full strength New Zealand team [in the quarterfinals] and they deserved their win.
“However, I think the guys did extremely well and displayed huge courage to come from behind to beat Samoa and also to overcome Kenya in the Plate Final."
The Springbok Sevens coach outlined his next aim is to increase the depth of his squad.
“The injuries to our regulars was unfortunate and part of the game," he added.
"On the plus side, it did gave us chance to give players such as Shaun Adendorff, WJ Strydom and Mark Richards more playing time.
"I am sure they benefitted a lot from playing in Glasgow and London.
“However, we will have to increase the strength and depth of our squad because next season will be an important one as we look to qualify for 2016 Olympics."
He also praised the impact of speedster Seabelo Senatla, after the dangerous wing was crowned top scorer in Las Vegas and London, following his long injury lay-off.
Senatla was closed to his best at Twickenham and was the top points and try scorer after dotting 13 tries.
“Seabelo made a huge impact after his return to action and he was really hungry to play after missing the first part of the season because of a back injury.
"Justin Geduld also deserves credit for his consistency throughout the season,” Powell remarked.
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