Blitzboks have to come good in Sydney to close the gap on current pacesetters

Fiji players have a team huddle during the World Rugby Sevens Series semi-final match between Fjii and South Africa at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on January 27, 2019.
Fiji players have a team huddle during the World Rugby Sevens Series semi-final match between Fjii and South Africa at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on January 27, 2019.
Image: MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP

The Blitzboks arrived in Sydney on Monday knowing that to keep a realistic chance of retaining their HSBC World Sevens Series alive‚ victory in the fourth leg of the season is crucial.

After finishing fourth in the Hamilton leg of the series last weekend‚ the Blitzboks are 13 points behind log leaders Fiji and the USA and contracting that gap would almost certainly mean winning in Australia.

“We need to forget about Hamilton and start afresh here in Sydney‚” said midfielder Werner Kok.

“We have to clear the minds‚ warm the hearts and make sure South Africa is proud of us at the end of the weekend. We have a week to fix things and we to use the time to do that.”

Kok admitted that they have lost a lot of experience‚ but believes that the effort and output of the Blitzbok team should always be at the same level‚ regardless of the personnel.

“There are less experienced guys in the squad this time around‚ but that does not change our attitude of making the country proud‚” said Kok.

“The quality of guys such as Rosko Specman‚ Ruhan Nel and Dylan Sage were undisputed and you don't replace players like them overnight. It does not have to be a deterrent to the younger guys though.

“You train hard‚ hoping to get the chance once an experienced player is not there anymore. That is the opportunity for the next guy.”

Kok had stern advice to the squad after the Hamilton tournament: “It was disappointing how we played at times. Some basics were not adhered to and that is something you cannot do.

“It is about the squad‚ but it will start with each individual taking ownership of the mistakes and then going out there to rectify it and make sure that it does not happen again‚” he said.

But for now‚ they are looking towards the Sydney tournament and the rest of the series: “It is still early in the series‚ but we need to start stepping up.”

The Blitzboks face Australia‚ Argentina and Tonga in Pool D of the event to be held at Spotless Stadium on 2 and 3 February.

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