HSBC Sevens World Series leaders South Africa head to New Zealand on Friday aiming for a hat-trick of tournament titles after wins in Dubai and Port Elizabeth last December. Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell made two changes to his winning squad, adding Chris Dry in place of Ruhan Nel and Justin Geduld in place of the unavailable Cheslin Kolbe, who has returned to the Stormers for their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign. The next two rounds of the popular World Series will be held on 6 and 7 February in Wellington, New Zealand, while Las Vegas will again host the United States event from 13 to 15 February.
The South Africans are currently on top of the World Series standings with 59 points after three rounds – eight points more than the second-placed Fiji. The World Series consists of nine rounds, and apart from the championship honours on offer, the top four teams on the log at the end of the season will also qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Speaking at a media briefing on the eve of their departure, Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown emphasised the need for an improvement at the next two tournaments.
Brown cautioned his team to keep their focus firm and not be distracted by their recent back-to-back wins. The Springbok Sevens skipper said, “It is important for us to keep up the momentum and to keep in that stride. The World Series is a demanding competition and requires full concentration and commitment in every single match that you play.” Brown added that he and his team will not get carried away by their current form and said they will have last season’s lessons firmly in mind.
The team found themselves in almost the same position at this time of the season last year, however, a dip in form thereafter saw them eventually finished in second place on the overall log. “It is great to find ourselves in the position we are currently in, but it will not mean that we will change our focus or approach. Looking back to the same period last season, I realise that we find ourselves in almost the same situation after wins in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas as well as playing in the Wellington Sevens final. To be honest, we have not achieved anything yet. The season is only about one-third behind us and we have two great tournaments coming up. Wellington is a great tournament and a huge challenge, while it is always nice to play in Las Vegas, as we have had nice experiences there in the past few years. Our immediate focus will be to get through day one in Wellington where we are in a tricky pool alongside France, the USA and Japan,” said Brown.
The Springbok Sevens squad to play in Wellington and Las Vegas:
Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco Du Preez, Rayno Benjamin, Warrick Gelant, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Justin Geduld.