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Blitzboks looking for continued progression in NZ

The Blitzboks have done well in in New Zealand in the past though and Powell feels that if they continue with their upward curve

The Blitzboks team huddle after winning their match against Scotland. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN – The improvement from the first to the second tournament of the World Rugby Sevens Series was pleasing, but Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell feels that his squad will need to progress even more if they want to be in contention at the New Zealand Sevens this weekend.

The Blitzboks, who started the season as back-to-back series champions, had a quiet start (by their standards), finishing sixth in Dubai and third in Cape Town in December, but they showed good improvement according to Powell.

“This tournament is traditionally a very tough one. For us, there is travel and time zones to overcome, but generally, teams are all pretty competitive. It is still early in the season and everyone is fit, mentally strong and keen and had some time together as a squad.

“All the teams also have enough time for players to recover from injuries picked up in Dubai and Cape Town, so altogether this is a high hurdle to overcome. The likes of Fiji and Samoa also see this as their home tournament, so it is really competitive.”

The Blitzboks have done well in New Zealand in the past, though, and Powell feels that they can continue with their upward curve.

“We had a good two and a half weeks back home and this week went well.

“I was particularly pleased with our defence session on Thursday. We do have some new combinations that will take time to develop, but overall we are progressing nicely.

“I have asked the guys to leave nothing out there in every match. We are not looking at our opponents but at our own effort. If the players give all they have in those 14 minutes and can walk off the field happy with their effort, I will be content.”

South Africa face Kenya, France and Scotland in Pool C on the first day, all of whom will be respected by the Blitzboks.