Bl­itzboks pre­view and in­fo­graphic

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - GAVIN RICH

BL­ITZBOKS vet­eran Branco du Preez says he and his team-mates will not be look­ing past their first two op­po­nents, but the re­al­ity is that the home team know that what comes after that has upped the ante for them in the open­ing rounds of the Cape Town Sevens.

They start their chal­lenge in this sec­ond round of the HSBC World Sevens Se­ries against Zim­babwe and Samoa to­mor­row, and it is cus­tom­ary for the big­ger teams to lim­ber up a bit on the first day and get them­selves into their rhythm.

How­ever, with the day end­ing for the Bl­itzboks with a clash with tour­na­ment cham­pi­ons and win­ners of the se­ries opener in Dubai last week, New Zealand, there is ex­tra rea­son now to be sharp from the off.

They need to build on what they started to put to­gether to­wards the end of the first leg in Dubai against the first two op­po­nents, so that they can be in a con­fi­dent mood when they clash with the All Blacks.

Should they do that, then op­por­tu­nity knocks for the Boks, and play­ing the Ki­wis on the first day may turn out to be a good thing for them.

Al­though they came away with a morale-boost­ing vic­tory last week, New Zealand had to dig deep for their win in the desert.

They were down to just nine fit play­ers by the time they reached the fi­nal against the USA, and cap­tain Scott Curry is one of those play­ers who has had to fly home.

Re­in­force­ments have been called for, but All Black Sevens coach Clark Laid­law didn’t ap­pear con­fi­dent about their chances of win­ning in South Africa when they left Dubai.

It would be un­der­stand­able if the Ki­wis took some time to get go­ing and back into their stride.

They may well be vul­ner­a­ble on the first day, and the Bl­itzboks will be putting a lot of ef­fort into mak­ing the most of what they’ll see as a great op­por­tu­nity to make the state­ment that will gal­vanise their chal­lenge on the de­cid­ing day of the tour­na­ment. “When you get op­por­tu­ni­ties to be tested early it does help big time with the mo­men­tum go­ing into the sec­ond day,” agreed Bok flyer Siviwe Soy­izwape.

Du Preez be­lieves that mak­ing an early state­ment will be im­por­tant, and that is why the ini­tial fo­cus is com­pletely on the chal­lenges posed by Samoa and Zim­babwe.

“We re­spect all teams and will not be look­ing past our first two op­po­nents. We want to make a state­ment this week­end and that will start in the first game on Satur­day [to­mor­row],” said Du Preez.

The Bl­itzbok play­maker agreed with the theme from team-mates ear­lier in the week that New Zealand had pro­vided a good ex­am­ple of what is needed this week­end. “They [New Zealand] are play­ing a very sim­ple game plan and limit their mis­takes. They are also very pa­tient on at­tack­ing, only strike when they see the de­fence is stretch­ing,” he said.

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