‘No excuses tour’ for Blitzboks

The Blitzboks coach Neil Powell takes his player through their paces.
The Blitzboks coach Neil Powell takes his player through their paces.
Image: Martin Seras Lima

Despite a punishing travel schedule that took the Blitzboks from Cape Town‚ to Joburg‚ on to Sydney and then to Auckland and finally Hamilton‚ which lasted nearly 40 hours‚ they have a no excuse mentality.

The journey to reach the third leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series is a long one‚ but the next step for the team to start its climb up the standings after a mediocre start to the campaign.

Last year the Sydney tournament was the first of the two tournaments on the Australasian leg‚ but this year it’s the second stop‚ meaning the Blitzboks had that much further to go initially.

“This is a tough schedule‚ which includes an extra four hours from Sydney to Auckland and then two hours on a bus from Auckland to Hamilton‚” coach Neil Powell said.

“It will be a challenge to recover in time as we travel over two more time zones‚ but when the NZ leg was in Wellington we did it this way around and were successful.

"So we aren’t making excuses. In fact‚ we've dubbed this tour the ‘no excuses tour.’

To help with recovery the Blitzboks left on Saturday instead of Sunday to give themselves an extra 24 hours to acclimatise.

About half the team are also representing the Blitzboks in NZ for the first time‚ which Powell believes will give some energy and excitement to the group.

One of the players to make his debut in NZ is Stedman Gans.

He is relishing the opportunity and says that the team only wants to focus on execution rather than results and the overall tournament.

He also said that the ‘no excuses motto started two years ago. The Blitzboks won Wellington on that occasion on their way to the overall title.

This time they are fifth on the standings after two rounds‚ eight points behind log leaders the USA.

“Coach Neil Powell said to us we can complain about the time zone disturbance and the long hours on the road‚ or we can embrace the challenge and get the job done‚” Gans said.

“The first time we followed that approach‚ the team won in Wellington and last year we did very well in Hamilton as well (SA were runners-up).

“So the same approach applies this time around. Yes‚ it is the biggest turnaround for us when it comes to time zones during the series‚ but we will not allow that to impact on us.”

The 21-year-old midfielder made a timely return to the Blitzbok team‚ having recovered from a hand injury that ruled him out of the opening two tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town‚ where the South Africans placed sixth and third respectively.

“It is great to be back as it’s always such an honour to play for this team and to represent our country‚” said Gans. “I worked hard to get back to full fitness again‚ so it is pleasing to be back on the field playing.”

Gans showed good improvement during recent outings for the team‚ growing in his role in the midfield amongst a host of world stars around him. “This trip is all about contributing to the team‚” said Gans.

“It is not about me at all. As happy as I am to be back and playing‚ the focus for me will be on doing what the team needs of me. We all have a role and I am very determined to do mine as best I can.”