Self-coaching Blitboks ready to take a sling at Singapore

South Africa Sevens Rugby head coach Neil Powell and Seabelo Senatla have a laugh during the Sevens national team arrivals at Cape Town International Airport on June 12, 2018.
South Africa Sevens Rugby head coach Neil Powell and Seabelo Senatla have a laugh during the Sevens national team arrivals at Cape Town International Airport on June 12, 2018.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell is always looking for an edge and this week he decided to let the players coach aspects of play to keep them on their toes.

Veteran Justin Geduld believes the exercise helped freshen up minds and make players take ownership of their mistakes after last week’s disappointing seventh place finish in Hong Kong.

With the eighth leg of the 2018-19 World Series in Singapore this weekend‚ the Blitzboks had a lighter week of on-field sessions‚ but Powell still kept the intensity by challenging players mentally.

Geduld admitted that the exercise made the players realise that they only have themselves to blame for an underwhelming performance in Hong Kong on the weekend‚ where they lost both their matches on knockout day on Sunday.

“We had to own up‚” said Geduld.

“We had many opportunities and we didn’t exploit all of them. We were out there on the field and were the ones who did not execute.”

In Hong Kong‚ Wales‚ who ended in 15th place‚ managed to beat World Series leaders‚ USA‚ in pool play‚ pointing to the unpredictability of sevens.

“If you don’t execute and use your opportunities‚ you will be punished‚” said Geduld.

“Maybe we were a bit impatient at times and tried to force the issue‚ instead of trusting the plan. We picked up that we tended to try and do things individually at times and did not trust the plan‚ which was fatal.

“We had to look at the various aspects of our play‚ such as attack‚ defence and breakdowns‚ and presented that. It certainly gave us another angle and perspective on how we played and executed and what we did wrong.”

Veteran forward Chris Dry agreed: “We needed to look at ourselves‚ not only how we performed mentally‚ but also our execution on the field.

“That is where the analysis comes in handy. It jigs the mind on why we did things in a certain way‚ and if we made mistakes‚ a mental note follows. That is how one learns.”

Clear gameplans were prepared for the various opponents and these were not always followed‚ Dry admitted.

“We needed to look at ourselves and that is where the reviews kicked in. Why did we make a particular decision to leave the gameplan and was it productive or successful‚” he said.

Dry added that the “homework” will assist the Blitzboks in getting their mindset right this weekend‚ when they will face Canada‚ Scotland and Fiji in Pool A.

“We were not at our best and we need to understand and admit why that happened‚” he said.

“We need to take the mistakes on the chin. The focus is on the new tournament and how to be consistent over the two days of the weekend.”

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