New­bies ex­cite Pow­ell

Coach ad­mits, how­ever, it will be tough to fill Se­natla, Kwagga’s shoes

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

SPARE a thought for Siviwe Soy­izwapi and Zain Davids, These two play­ers will go into the Welling­ton leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Se­ries not only hav­ing to prove their worth in the Bl­itzbokke but also with the knowl­edge that they will soon be step­ping into the giant shoes of Se­abelo Se­natla and Kwagga Smith.

An ex­cited Bl­itzbokke team ar­rived in Welling­ton yes­ter­day af­ter their long haul flight from Jo­han­nes­burg and while their aim is to hang on to their se­ries lead af­ter the tour­na­ments in Aus­trala­sia, Soy­izwapi and Davids will be hop­ing that they will have done enough to hold on to their jer­seys as well.

Se­natla and Smith have long made their in­ten­tion clear of reach­ing the same heights in the longer ver­sion of the game as they have in their time with the Sevens side and Welling­ton and Sydney will be their swan­song – they will move on to the Storm­ers and Lions, re­spec­tively, to tackle this year’s Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion.

Bl­itzboks coach Neil Pow­ell, how­ever, has no doubt that it will be a seam­less tran­si­tion.

For­tu­nately for the Mthatha-born Soy­izwapi the stage won’t be too big for him as he has al­ready played for the Bl­itzboks last sea­son.

Said Pow­ell: “I think it is go­ing to be im­por­tant for us to give Shakes (as Soy­izwapi’s is also known) his fair share of game time. Ob­vi­ously, Se­abelo is leav­ing af­ter these two tour­na­ments and we need to get Shakes into the sys­tem as quickly as pos­si­ble. (He) showed in the three tour­na­ments that he played last year that he is ca­pa­ble of play­ing at this level. He doesn’t have the top end speed that Se­abelo has but I think he’s got other at­tributes that can make him a top player in our set-up.”

Davids, on the other hand, is new to the Sevens scene but his tal­ent is un­ques­tion­able. The for­mer Ron­de­bosch Boys’ High School pupil and Ju­nior Spring­bok has a phys­i­cal pres­ence to match some of the big­gest men on the cir­cuit and com­pli­ments that with a fine set of skills.

“Kwagga is also leav­ing af­ter these two tour­na­ments and we are hop­ing that Kyle (Brown) will still be around when Kwagga leaves but un­for­tu­nately he is out for a long term be­cause of his knee in­jury. We are look­ing to a guy like Zain to fill those boots of Kwagga. I think at­tack­ing wise he is re­ally good, nice and phys­i­cal, he breaks tack­les and has good run­ning skills. But for any XVs player com­ing to Sevens the big­gest chal­lenge will al­ways be de­fence and how they un­der­stand their roles in the sys­tem. It will be good to see how he goes in this (Welling­ton) tour­na­ment but then again we won’t put him in the start­ing line-up just yet but will play him off the bench ... to see what he is ca­pa­ble of,” Pow­ell said.

The Bl­itzbokke are in a tough pool where they face Ja­pan, Aus­tralia and Fiji and Pow­ell is ea­ger to see his team do well in Welling­ton.

“We have a tough pool and a tough cross­over pool which has New Zealand, Samoa, USA and France in it. So it’s not go­ing to be easy and if we want to be suc­cess­ful in this tour­na­ment then ev­ery­body is go­ing to have to pull their weight and be on form.”

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