Reputation alone won't guarantee place in final World Cup squad‚ warns Powell

Blitzbok coach Neil Powell.
Blitzbok coach Neil Powell.

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has warned that no players in his World Cup training group are guaranteed a place in the final squad on reputation alone.

Powell has a group of 16 players currently at an altitude training camp in Johannesburg‚ which will be culled to 12 for the tournament in San Francisco next month.

Blitzboks stalwarts such as Rosko Specman and Chris Dry are in the preliminary squad but will have to prove their fitness and form after missing the latter stages of the 2017/18 World Sevens Series.

After using 28 players in defence of their World Series crown‚ Powell is demanding only the best and fittest as SA attempts to win the Sevens World Cup for a first time.

“We have 16 players here and it’s important to see how some of them who were injured‚ react to training and playing matches before we can make a call on their possible inclusion in the final 12-man squad that will travel to the USA‚” said Powell.

“Rosko Specman‚ Chris Dry and Selvyn Davids need to show that they carry no effects from the injuries that ruled them out of the last couple of tournaments in the World Series.

“They are also keen to be part of the group and they brought good energy back into the mix. Players such as Rosko and Chris always bring smiles to faces and it is nice having that energy.

“We want to improve on individual play within the group‚ but also fix some of the issues we picked up during the series‚” said Powell.

“It is pretty wet in Cape Town at the moment‚ so the conditions here make it easier for us to focus on the rugby and not to worry about the muddy fields back home.

“We hope to get four to six proper chukkas against the Golden Lions on Thursday. Then it’s only two weeks before we leave for the USA.”

Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman said the team is in a good space and they are keen to get to San Francisco.

“We have now properly discussed the World Series win and the way in which we came back from the death to snatch it‚” said Snyman‚ who could play in his third Rugby World Cup Sevens.

“Winning the series gave us a big boost and it will help with our confidence. Guys such as Rosko‚ Chris and Selvyn are also bringing some nice enthusiasm back into the squad.

“However‚ we have to start all over and afresh for this one. Once-off tournaments provide different challenges and we have to prepare accordingly.

"This will be about one weekend‚ not eight months like the World Series‚ so we have to adjust to that.”

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.