Blitzboks keep an eye on Scotland
SEVENS SPOTLIGHT: The Springbok Sevens team touched down in Paris with their sights set on Scotland in n this weekend's World Sevens Series, to be played in the Stade Jean Bouin on May 13 and 14.
They arrived just in time for a birthday celebration for Branco du Preez in the French capital.
The team started training for the ninth leg of the overall World Rugby Sevens tournament in all earnest on Tuesday and according to the experienced Du Preez, are keen to get on the field and express themselves.
The 27-year-old sweeper has been in good form this season, scoring 152 points so far and managed to become only the second Blitzboks player to score 1000 career points in the World Series.
"We travelled well and with the time difference the same, it was an easy flight from Cape Town to London and then into Paris. I was fortunate enough to have a little cake on my birthday last night, but we will now focus on the tournament," he said.
Du Preez missed out on last year's event in Paris, so is keen to mark his mark this time around.
"I have not played here before, so it is exciting for me, but the focus will be on contributing to the team first, rather than going at it yourself," said Du Preez, who has played in 53 tournaments now, fourth on the all-time Blitzboks list.
"I would like to go out and enjoy myself and to make sure that every contribution I make is a positive one. Consistency will be the key for us and that starts against Scotland. We certainly have a plan for them, so the challenge for us will be in the execution of that,"
Teammate, Dylan Sage, also pointed to the Scots as the main focus for them.
"We are aware of what happened last year. We had a good day one, but then lost to Samoa in the Cup quarters on day two and they went on to win the tournament. We have seen, with the likes of Kenya, Scotland and recently Canada, that any team can deliver on the day and win the tournament. There are no easy games out there," Sage said.
"We are in a good space at the moment. We travelled well, have good momentum from the season and are looking to finish the season well,”
Sage has played in all eight tournament and is proving a real stalwart, mixing it up between backs and forwards. He has scored ten tries and is closing in on 50 matches for the season, which points to his telling involvement in the squad this year.
"We should not overthink it, stay in the right mental space and get the job done on Saturday. We have prepared well and if we stick to our plans and trust the processes, we will do well," he said.
The World Series had Paris as host four times.
South Africa won in 2006 season, lost in the final in 2000 and won the Plate Finals in 2005 and 2016.
South Africa play against Scotland, Japan and Canada in pool A on Saturday.