Bl­itzboks to match the stretched Ki­wis

Both teams are strug­gling with var­i­ous is­sues ahead of their Cape Town en­counter

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Craig Ray Cape Town

The Bl­itzboks have their own is­sues with patchy form and some in­ex­pe­ri­enced per­son­nel‚ but they will be re­lieved that main Pool A ri­vals New Zealand are also strug­gling.

The Bl­itzboks have their own is­sues with patchy form and some in­ex­pe­ri­enced per­son­nel‚ but they will be re­lieved that main Pool A ri­vals New Zealand are also strug­gling.

De­spite win­ning the open­ing Dubai leg of the 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Se­ries last week­end‚ the Ki­wis have been shorn of key play­ers for this week’s sec­ond leg in Cape Town.

They have been forced to call up three re­place­ments af­ter a high ca­su­alty rate in Dubai.

They lost six play­ers in to­tal‚ three be­fore the tour­na­ment and three dur­ing to the tour­na­ment.

Trael Joass‚ Etene NanaiSe­turo and Tay­lor Haugh have joined the team af­ter Kurt Baker‚ Jona Nareki and Akuila Rokolisoa all sus­tained in­juries be­fore the Dubai event kicked off. Sam Dick­son‚ Scott Curry and Re­gan Ware picked up in­juries dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

While New Zealand’s re­sources will be stretched at the Cape Town Sta­dium in a tricky Pool that also con­tains Zim­babwe and Samoa‚ the Bl­itzboks are only wait­ing on Justin Geduld’s fit­ness.

The mazy play­maker took a knock in Dubai and is still work­ing through con­cus­sion pro­to­cols. A late call on his avail­abil­ity will be made be­fore the game.

Af­ter sixth place and only 12 log points‚ 10 fewer than the Ki­wis earned for win­ning Dubai‚ the Bl­itzboks know that win­ning their home tour­na­ment is al­most non-ne­go­tiable now.

Bl­itzbok cap­tain Philip Sny­man at­tended the of­fi­cial cap­tains’ photo on Robben Is­land on Tues­day wear­ing the com­mem­o­ra­tive match jer­sey‚ which they will play in this week­end.

The spe­cial mo­tif jer­sey serves as a tribute to late pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela’s 100th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. Sny­man said that would boost their mo­ti­va­tion on the field. “It was very emo­tional stand­ing on Robben Is­land‚ wear­ing this spe­cial jer­sey‚ We all cel­e­brate the role Madiba played as the fa­ther of the na­tion‚ and this jer­sey will add to our mo­ti­va­tion. Sim­i­larly to that which our late Mr Man­dela en­vis­aged‚ the Bl­itzboks are a team that want to in­spire and give hope to peo­ple‚ and to use our abil­i­ties on the field to bring the na­tion to­gether.”

He said that deep de­sire‚ com­bined with the need to im­prove on ef­forts in Dubai last week‚ will drive them at home.

“We want to play to our po­ten­tial for our­selves and for ev­ery­one out there. That is a given‚” he said.

The ex­pected sell-out crowd will also boost their en­ergy lev­els‚ said the cap­tain.

“We will be play­ing in front of 50-odd thou­sand peo­ple each day in the only week­end we get to play in our own coun­try. That is mas­sive for us.

“More im­por­tantly though‚ is that we will also be play­ing with the sup­port of 50-mil­lion peo­ple‚ and we are hop­ing to make all of them proud.”

Sny­man was con­fi­dent that the team would be able to make the nec­es­sary tweaks to im­prove on their sixth-place fin­ish in Dubai.

“Coach Neil Pow­ell has a plan or two up his sleeve and I think we will be very com­pet­i­tive this week­end‚” said Sny­man.

/Ziyaad Dou­glas/Gallo Im­ages

In­spired by Madiba: Bl­itzbok cap­tain Philip Sny­man in the com­mem­o­ra­tive jer­sey the South Africans will play in this week­end with the tro­phy at the launch of the event on Robben Is­land.

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