Powell changes things up

With the Blitzboks only playing their first game against Papua New Guinea after six on Friday, coach Neil Powell has implemented a few tweaks to their approach in Sydney.

The tournament starts on Friday at Allianz Stadium, with South Africa facing Papua New Guinea in their opener. On Saturday, they face Spain and England in their remaining pool games, with the knockout phase on Sunday. And Powell is eager to measure the progress his team has made.

“The three-day tournaments are a bit different from the normal ones on the circuit and this Sydney tournament does have a bit of a Hong Kong Sevens feel due to it due to the fact that it is played over three days,” said Powell.

“We arrived a bit earlier than normal because of that. It is not the easiest thing to travel to Australia and New Zealand from South Africa as it does take a day or two to get back into the flow of things.

“We needed to make sure the players had enough sleep and lifted the intensity of training as the week progressed. We will have a captain’s run on Friday morning, although we play later in the day, as it works best for our routine.

“We only play after six (09h22 SA time) and it is a long day for the guys to just wait around, so the session on Friday will break up the day a bit and get the guys focussed on the job at hand.”

Powell looked at fine-tuning their preparations this week, as he believes the hard work was done at their training base in Stellenbosch already.

“We looked back at what went wrong in Cape Town and it seemed to be a mental thing,” said Powell.

“We had some technical mishaps, but I think the long 2017 season got to the players

“That said, the rest did wonders to all of them and I could feel the intensity and vibe in the air in the last week or so. We see this tournament as a bit of a trial run for the Commonwealth Games as well (to be played at Gold Coast in mid-April), so want to go out there and measure ourselves against the best in the world.”

- All Out Rugby Staff Writer