BlitzBoks must improve 'ball-in-hand' game
IN THE SEVENS SPOTLIGHT: Defending champions South Africa are looking to be even more dangerous on attack.
The 2016/17 World Series and Sydney champions, the BlitzBoks have been great on defence.
But assistant coach Renfred Dazel said attack is their focus this week - ahead of Round Three of the 2017/18 World Series in Sydney.
Dazel, who represented the BlitzBoks in 32 tournaments, is still feeling some nerves and excitement in the build-up to this weekend's tournament.
It will be the first time for Dazel in his new role as an assistant coach of the men's team.
"I have played and worked with [head coach] Neil Powell before, so this is not completely new to me," explained Dazel, who was the SA women's coach until the end of last year.
"I assisted him at the Olympic Games in 2016 [where South Africa won bronze] and during the Cape Town Sevens last December. We were also teammates for a couple of years. The women's team also shared the same base in Stellenbosch, so I really slotted in with ease."
He made it clear that attack was at a premium in Sydney this week.
"There is less pressure for the assistant coach, which allows me to focus on the task at hand - more personal and one-on-one coaching with the players. I am taking care of the attack and the one thing we picked up from our performance in Cape Town, was a need to improve with ball in hand.
"We have shifted some of the focus of our preparations towards that.
"I am excited and a bit nervous about the weekend, but that is a good sign," Dazel added.
Another experienced, but excited BlitzBok in the squad is veteran Kyle Brown, who will be playing in his 61st tournament, but first in Sydney. He missed the previous two tournaments in New South Wales due to injury, but Australia is not new to him as he has played in the Adelaide and Gold Coast tournaments before.
"I had a quiet stroll around the city this morning to check out some of the coffee shops," Brown said. He could be playing in his 300th match for South Africa this weekend, but Brown prefers not to focus on this achievement.
"Nothing was made of my 100th or 200th matches, so I don't quite know what to with that. I am just happy to be back with the squad," he said.
Stedman Gans, another debutant at the Sydney Sevens, is also keen to get the action underway. Gans made his BlitzBoks debut in Las Vegas last year and played in Vancouver, Hong Kong and Singapore before he joined the Junior Springboks in Georgia for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
Earlier this month, Gans was part of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy side that won tournaments in Uruguay and Chile and now he finds himself with the BlitzBoks in Australia.
"It is what the system is all about - the Academy is there to produce and deliver the next generation of BlitzBoks and this is what is happening now," said Gans.
"We gained some valuable game time in South America. Players learn and develop with time on the field. I am still learning and growing as a player and this tournament will be more about that. I recovered well after the trip from South America and thanks to the staff back home at our base in Stellenbosch, I am feeling fine and ready to play."
The Springbok Sevens team open the tournament with a Pool C clash against Papua New Guinea on Friday. They face Spain and England on Saturday.