Blitzboks looking for dashing Dubai start

 

The whole HSBC World Sevens Series merry go round kicks off in Dubai on Friday with the Blitzboks looking to start the campaign positively again.

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell Picture: FILE

Over the past two seasons they have won in Dubai and gone on to win the overall series.

South Africa have the chance to win the World Series for a third straight year – a feat only achieved by New Zealand since the inception of the competition when they won the first six in a row between 2000 and 2005.

The Kiwis also won four in a row between 2011-2014 while Fiji’s best run has been two in a row.

The Blitzboks were remarkably consistent last season qualifying for the semi-finals of each of the 10 legs. But they only won two tournaments from that position‚ which was a mediocre return for their consistency.

“We need to stay consistent but we also have been working on finding the killer instinct when we reach the semi-finals and finals‚” Snyman said.

Snyman’s experience will be a huge positive factor in Dubai and for the duration of the season.

The Blitzboks have won three of the last four Dubai tournaments‚ including the last two‚ underlining how much emphasis they put on making a strong statement early in the campaign.

“We believe if we can get off to a good‚ solid start in Dubai then it sets the tone for the rest of the season‚” Snyman said.

“The last two years we won the first leg and take momentum into our home tournament in Cape Town next week.

“So if we can start well here and pick up the level in Cape Town‚ you could go into the Christmas break at the top of the log. So it’s important for us to get out of the blocks quickly.”

SA are top seeds and are drawn in Pool A. They open their account against Zimbabwe on Friday and have later matches against Samoa and Argentina.

In the early years there were only realistically three or four teams that could win‚ but recently‚ with the sport of sevens becoming a part of the Olympics‚ the strength base has widened.

The likes of the USA are always contenders while Argentina‚ Australia‚ France and Canada are factors alongside the big three of NZ‚ SA and Fiji.

The other major goal during the 2018/19 season‚ is to secure one of the top four overall positions to secure automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Although there are other avenues into the four-yearly showpiece‚ Blitzbok coach Neil Powell wants to get it done during this campaign and not have to sneak in the back door.

Snyman will be playing his 10th Dubai tournament and as one of the veterans in the side‚ he knows that every tournament could be his last.

There are no guarantees that he will be still be in the set up when Tokyo comes round‚ but the skipper is determined to make sure the team qualifies.

“There has definitely been talk about the Olympics in our pre-season‚” Snyman said. “Olympic qualifying is the main aim for the season‚ but we also want to still be successful and retain the No 1 position.

“If we can be consistent like last year then it will take care of itself.”

Craig Ray – TimesLIVE

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