Preview: Vancouver Sevens
WORLD SERIES SPOTLIGHT: With titles in four of five tournaments so far and 28 wins in 30 matches this season, South Africa's BlitzBoks rank as heavy favourites for the Vancouver leg of the Sevens World Series.
Coming off a triumph over Fiji in last week's Final at Las Vegas, South Africa seek their fourth title in a row over the Canadian weekend, knowing their best might well be yet to come.
"We will never be satisfied. There's always room for improvement, even if it is just one percent," South Africa's Rosko Specman said.
"We were not at our best in Las Vegas, despite the fact that we won the tournament. We made a number of errors and our one-on-one defence was not ideal, so we have a lot to work on this week.
Speckman, Player of the Final at Las Vegas, credits working within the team system for his success.
"Individual performances come from a team effort and that's where our strength lies at the moment," he said.
"We're playing for each other and really work hard to support each other. That structure and system allow the individuals to perform."
Sandile Ngcobo joined the BlitzBoks, the back providing depth after Justin Geduld suffered an ankle injury in Las Vegas.
Stedman Gans, a Junior Springbok last year who replaced Geduld in the lineup on the last day in Las Vegas, will remain in the role at Vancouver.
"We've had our share of injuries already this year," South Africa coach Neil Powell said.
"Our depth has been tested, but on the plus side, every injury creates an opportunity for another player to show his worth."
Powell knows that the BlitzBoks will have to endure another huge physical test, but expects the mental challenge to his side to be even greater.
"Unfortunately there is a lot of talk that we have the series sewn up, which cannot be further from the truth," said Powell.
"One bad tournament, where you don't make the semi-finals, could derail our momentum significantly.
"The last thing I want to players to think of is a fifth tournament win or our lead in the series and then getting ahead of themselves. We dare not to look past Chile in that first pool game."
Chile has interestingly won the only encounter played between the two sides, by 28-21 in a pool match at Punta del Este in Uruguay in 2000.
"I don't have to spell out how dangerous Kenya and England can be, so if we are not on top of our game, we could not even make the quarters," Powell warned.
The South Africans have won 40 of their 46 matches against Kenya (average score 26-9) and 36 of 68 against England (average score 16-15).
"We did a solid review of our performance in Las Vegas and realised how many things we can still do better," said Powell.
"We did some good things, but not enough to excuse us from working hard again this week to fine tune our game. I was pleased with the way we executed our ruck attack and how we kept the ball when we had possession."
At the halfway mark of the ten-tournament series, the BlitzBoks (107) hold a 24-point lead over Fiji (83), with England (81) close behind the Olympic gold medal winners.
The BlitzBoks are in Pool A with England, Kenya and Chile.
Fiji, Argentina, Samoa and Wales comprise Pool B.
Australia, France, Japan and the United States are in Pool C.
Hosts in Pool D alongside New Zealand, Scotland and Russia.
South Africa won the series opener at Dubai, beating Fiji in the Final, but lost on home soil to England in the Final at Cape Town.
The BlitzBoks responded with wins at Wellington, Sydney and Las Vegas.
The Canadian event, which saw South Africa finish runner-up to New Zealand in its debut last year, is the sixth of 10 tournaments in the global series, which goes to Hong Kong and Singapore in April and concludes in May at Paris and London.
(Kick-off is local time - GMT minus eight hours)
Saturday, March 11
Australia v France - 09.30
United States v Japan - 09.52
Argentina v Samoa - 10.14
Fiji v Wales - 10.36
England v Kenya - 10.58
South Africa v Chile - 11.20
Canada v Scotland - 11.42
New Zealand v Russia - 12.04
Australia v Japan - 13.06
United States v France - 13.28
Argentina v Wales - 13.50
Fiji v Samoa - 14.12
England v Chile - 14.34
South Africa v Kenya - 14.56
Canada v Russia - 15.18
New Zealand v Scotland - 15.40
France v Japan - 16.46
United States v Australia - 17.08
Samoa v Wales - 17.30
Fiji v Argentina - 17.52
Kenya v Chile - 18.14
South Africa v England - 18.36
Scotland v Russia - 18.58
New Zealand v Canada - 19.20
@rugby365 & AFP