Aggressive tackling is the top priority for the Blitzboks when they complete the Saturday schedule with a blockbuster showdown against New Zealand in the Cape Town Sevens.
“We need to make better tackles,” said Blitzboks veteran Branco du Preez, who has amassed 1175 points for the Springbok Sevens team in 310 matches.
“New Zealand are playing a very basic game plan and limit their mistakes. They are also very patient on attack and only strike when they see the defence is stretching. So we need to make sure we make dominant tackles against them in order to throw them off their rhythm on attack.”
The All Blacks Sevens contenders clinched the Dubai Cup and arrived in South Africa as the early leaders in the 2018/19 World Rugby Sevens Series. New Zealand are also the reigning Cape Town champions and, drawn in the same pool as the hosts, their clash against the Blitzboks is sure to bring a climactic close to the tournament’s pool phase.
South Africa won the 2017/18 world series on the back of a ferocious defence, fuelled by superior levels of conditioning, but the absence of Tim Agaba, Kwagga Smith, Ruhan Nel and Dylan Sage manifested itself in a lack of firepower in the tackle fight last week.
Similar issues may catch up with the Kiwis in Cape Town as a run of injuries saw them contest last week’s final with only nine players, and they’ve had to replace Kurt Baker, Akuila Rokolisoa, Scott Curry and Sam Dickson with Trael Joass, Etene Nanai-Seturo and Taylor Haugh.
Blitzboks finisher Werner Kok is on the same page as Du Preez, a cohesion he blames for South Africa’s slow start to the season.
“We slipped off too many tackles in Dubai, it is as simple as that,” he said. “We lacked a team effort in those opening matches, but once we sorted that out and found the team structure again, things went well. So we need to start from that base here in Cape Town.”
The Blitzboks kick off their Saturday schedule with matches against Samoa (12.27pm) and Zimbabwe (3.48pm) before lining up against New Zealand on Saturday night (7.56pm).
“We respect all teams and will not look past our first two opponents,” added Du Preez. “We want to make a statement this weekend and that will start in the first game on Saturday.”
— Staff Writer