The Springbok Sevens will be aiming for a third title in four years at the Las Vegas Sevens this weekend when Round 4 of the HSBC Sevens World Series takes place in Nevada, USA.
South Africa will strive to maintain their good form and momentum, which have resulted in a runners-up spot in Dubai and a much sought-after Cup win last December in Port Elizabeth, where they defeated New Zealand to win their home tournament.
The defending Las Vegas champions are currently second on the World Series log on 56 points, just two behind log leaders NZ.
Victorious in 2011 and 2013, the Springbok Sevens are now aiming to add a third USA title to their name in the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. On Saturday and Sunday however, the South Africans will first have to navigate a strong Pool A which consists of Wales, Canada and Kenya.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, made three changes to the squad that won in Port Elizabeth, with Rosko Specman, Stephan Dippenaar and Seabelo Senatla replacing Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (MTN Golden Lions) and Steven Hunt respectively.
Junior Springbok speedster Senatla returns from injury for his first World Series outing of the season, while Steval Pumas flyer Specman is set to make his World Series debut after impressing in recent tournaments for the SA Sevens Academy squad.
Team captain Kyle Brown said their goal is to reach the last four: “The win in PE gave the team a huge boost and we want to keep our consistency by reaching the last four in the Cup competition,” said Brown. “If we can do that then we will stay in touch with the front-runners on the log table.
“We have a great squad with some incredible players on the fringes that are knocking hard on the door. I’m sure that makes selection a lovely nightmare for the coach, but it also means that you have to work incredibly hard to keep your place in the squad.”
Much has been made about the size of the field, which is not as wide as the usual pitch layout. However, according to Brown, the layout will not give any team a specific advantage.
The Springbok Sevens captain wants the team to maintain their good showing on defence: “We have worked really hard on our defensive approach because that is such a key aspect of the game. The World Series is an extremely tough competition, which requires full focus and commitment in every match, whether you’re defending or attacking,” explains Brown.
All matches are live on SuperSport 1 and via live Internet streaming at www.supersport.com.
The Springbok Sevens’ Pool A fixtures in Las Vegas are:
Saturday, Jan 25
02:00 vs. Wales
04:56 vs. Canada
Sunday, Jan 26
00:12 vs. Kenya
The Springbok Sevens squad (with no of tournaments in brackets):
Kyle Brown (captain, 36)
Chris Dry (31)
Philip Snyman (18)
Frankie Horne (53)
Rosko Specman (0)
Werner Kok (3)
Branco du Preez (26)
Stephan Dippenaar (16)
Justin Geduld (7)
Cecil Afrika (27)
Sampie Mastriet (5)
Seabelo Senatla (5)
The HSBC Sevens World Series Standings after Round 3:
1. New Zealand 58 points
2. South Africa 56
3. Fiji 48
4. England 40
5. Australia 34
6. Argentina 33
7. Kenya 32