South Africa hop­ing for more suc­cess at their ‘great hunt­ing ground’

The National - News - - DUBAI SEVENS SPORT - Paul Radley

Neil Pow­ell, the South Africa coach, says his side re­main hun­gry for Dubai suc­cess, de­spite win­ning here more of­ten than any other side.

The coach him­self has been com­ing to the tour­na­ment for the past 11 sea­sons, which pre­dates the con­struc­tion of the cur­rent site at The Sevens.

In the 10 times it has been played there to date, the Blitzboks have won four times – twice as much as the next best, Fiji and Eng­land.

They are bid­ding for a hat­trick of Emi­rates In­ter­na­tional Tro­phy wins this week­end, and Pow­ell says they will be work­ing hard to achieve it.

“It is one of the tour­na­ments, even af­ter 11 years, we are re­ally look­ing for­ward to com­ing back to,” Pow­ell said. “Some­times, if it is just the third time we are go­ing back to a tour­na­ment you can feel like, ‘Sheesh, we’ve done this be­fore’.

“It is prob­a­bly be­cause of the suc­cess we have had over the past few years. It has been a great hunt­ing ground for us, but we can’t just pitch up and ex­pect to be suc­cess­ful. We have to do the hard work first.”

Pow­ell said there is a prac­ti­cal ben­e­fit of play­ing in the UAE that has un­der­lined their suc­cess here in the past.

“It is prob­a­bly the eas­i­est flight for us,” Pow­ell said. “It is only a two-hour dif­fer­ence, and one flight straight to Dubai. For all the other guys, it is at least a four-hour dif­fer­ence, for New Zealand it is nine, and for Aus­tralia seven.

“It makes a huge dif­fer­ence when you have to travel over so many time zones. I think that def­i­nitely helps in our per­for­mance as well.”

Chris Whiteoak / The Na­tional; Getty

Anti-clock­wise from far left: The Sevens sta­dium was built in 423 days; ac­tion from Canada v Kenya in the 2017 Emi­rates Air­lines Dubai Rugby Sevens, which was won by South Africa

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