Blitzbok captain Siviwe Soyizwapi is confident that the team will start the last HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in the same way they started the first in Dubai way back in December. They were victorious then and if they finish the same this weekend, glory awaits.
But Soyizwapi knows for that to happen though, they have to play to those same standards.
“We have to keep our own standards and not worry about our opponents,” he said.
“We had an up and down season, but we learned from all those mishaps and came back stronger. This is one more go and another opportunity to finish the season the way we started it way back in Dubai. We know what the level is to win tournaments, it is now up to us to make sure we reach that this weekend.”
Their focus will be crucial, he said: “We want to make sure the focus remains in the right areas as we have learned from mistakes made. There is a tough weekend awaiting us, but that is how we prefer it – we are at our best when things are tough.”
Soyizwapi said their three pool games, starting on Saturday evening (SA time) loom large.
“Canada have been playing good rugby all series, the USA will feed off the energy from their home crowd and will be pumped up, and New Zealand have always been a great rival, so all three matches will challenge us. We just need to ensure we have the consistency from the start and the rest will follow,” said Soyizwapi, who was pleased with the way their preparation went as well.
“We started the week well by adjusting our sleeping patterns, not going to bed when our SA body clocks kicked in. It was not only the time zone that was different, but also the weather. We left a cold and wet Cape Town for a warm and sunny LA, so that was also a nice change for us. The sessions also had a nice intensity to it, so we are quite pleased with the way that went.”
Blitzbok forward JC Pretorius, who is in line to play in his 100th World Series match for the team in California, was also in a positive mood as the tournament approached.
“I picked up an injury in Toulouse and missed the London tournament, so I was in a race against time to be ready for the Commonwealth Games,” said Pretorius.
“I did stress a bit, to be honest, whether I would recover in time for the Commonwealth Games. Luckily, I did and as the tournament progressed, I felt increasingly at ease and in the end, it finished very well for us.
“This time around, I am fit and ready and with a very positive mindset. We have played the USA and Canada a number of times this season, so we know by now how to play them. It will all be about our standards and how we execute those.”
Pretorius, who took up surfing a while back, was also happy to dip his toes in the Pacific Ocean.
“Yes, we took a dip in the ocean when we arrived here, so what better way to start the week," Pretorius said with a smile. “Now we just need to make sure we finish the week on a high note as well.”
Blitzboks’ pool schedule (SA times, all matches on SuperSport):
Saturday, 27 August:
Sunday 28 August
00h59: New Zealand