BlitzBoks eager to break Hong Kong duck
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: South African captain Philip Snyman is eager for his team to finally break their duck at the Hong Kong leg of the Sevens World Series.
Snyman will make his sixth visit to Hong Kong since his debut for the BlitzBoks in 2009, keen to make his first appearance as captain at this celebrated tournament a memorable one.
The BlitzBoks are yet to taste glory at this event, but with six consecutive appearances in tournament finals this season, they are harbouring ambitions of getting that elusive Cup Final victory for the first time.
Snyman expects the team to give a good account of themselves, despite arriving with three players who have never played in the Hong Kong before.
The 30-year-old captain will have to calm the nerves of the two 19-year-olds in the squad, Stedman Gans and Zain Davids, but also make sure debutant BlitzBok, Selvyn Davids, hits the ground running.
South Africa face tough pool matches against France (on Friday) and Kenya and Canada (on Saturday).
"Our sessions went well," Snyman said.
"We had a solid attack session when we arrived and then showed good intensity in our defence session, which normally points to a positive mindset in the squad," he added.
"Stedman and Zain have seen what it's all about in the last couple of tournaments, so they know what's needed to contribute positively.
"I am also pretty excited on behalf of Selvyn, as he really has some serious weapons in his arsenal and definitely has that X-factor that could stand the team in good stead."
The BlitzBoks have undergone some changes since the opening tournament in Dubai in December - with Kyle Brown, Justin Geduld, Rosko Specman and Stephan Dippenaar injured, while Seabelo Senatla and Albertus Smith are now playing Super Rugby.
Snyman sees those changes as positives.
"You have to grow as a team during the year anyway and adapt here and there in order to progress your game," he said.
"We had to make a tweak or two, but the fundamentals stayed the same. If we stick to our system and structure like we have done in the last couple of months, the rewards will be there for us."
If everything goes according to the script, either Fiji or New Zealand - both of whom have dominated this tournament in the last two decades - could await the South Africans in the Cup quarterfinals, but Snyman is adamant that they are not looking that far ahead.
"They both have awesome records at this tournament, but we are not looking at potential quarterfinals yet," said Snyman.
"We dare not look past France for our first match on Friday, so our focus will be to make a strong start on Day One. We are very keen to win here, but to do that we need to keep it simple, believe in our structures and game plan."