Depth key to BlitzBoks success
INTERVIEW: BlitzBok star Ruhan Nel believes depth in the squad has played a key role in South Africa's success so far in the 2016/2-17 Sevens World Series.
The Springbok Sevens team arrived safely in Sydney, where Werner Kok, Branco du Preez and Nel will be looking to add a third series title this weekend as part of a squad where all the players and management contribute.
The Blitzboks will contest the Sydney Sevens – the fourth stop of the World Rugby Sevens Series – on Saturday and Sunday. The tournament, to be played at the Allianz Stadium, will see South Africa play England, Kenya and Japan in a tough Pool A on Saturday.
The Wellington Sevens proved to be a highlight for South Africa, as the team recorded only a second win in 15 years, having last won in 2002.
Nel, who came on as a replacement and scored twice in the Cup Final against Fiji, said his tries came about due to team work. His five-pointers, both scored late in the second half, effectively took the result away from the Fijians, who are known for their comeback ability.
"It is always pretty tense when you come on as a sub, as you want to contribute," said Nel.
"There was four minutes left when I came on and to score two tries was pretty special. I need to thank my teammates for that though, as they were the ones putting me in space and creating the opportunity to score. It was a great feeling."
The wing points to the importance of having good depth in the squad.
"You don't win tournaments like this with seven players only, we have to operate as a squad and I think we did that well," added Nel.
"Everyone contributed when asked. We have a structure and if you stick to it, chances are good that you will be successful."
The Wellington tournament was a milestone for wing Seabelo Senatla, who broke the team's all-time try-scoring record when he passed the 179 mark of Fabian Juries in the 26-5 win over Fiji in the Final at the Westpac Stadium.
Juries (925 career points) was also overhauled in the all-time scoring stakes by Du Preez (951 points). The sweeper is now second only behind injured teammate, Cecil Afrika (1167), but said the win was all that mattered.
"It was good to be out there with the boys," said Du Preez.
"We stuck to our structures and worked hard, so the rewards were nice. We went into the tournament with a plan, we executed it well and it worked, so it is pleasing to be successful at the end of it."
Kok, whose 60 tackles in the Kiwi capital was the most in the team, said the victory was pleasing as it was reward for the work put in by the BlitzBoks.
"We worked hard for this so there is lots of joy in our hearts, that is for sure," said Kok, who pointed to the team's defensive structure for his impressive tackle count.
"We have a very good defensive structure in place and we focus on that. If everyone fulfils his role in that structure, it works well, like it did on the weekend."