Blitzbokke gearing up for Wellington

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The Blitzbokke won inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens in December and on January 4 resumed training following a well-deserved break over the festive season.

The third leg of the World Series takes place in Wellington, New Zealand from on January 30 and 31 while the inaugural Sydney tournament takes place a week later, on February 6 and 7.

SA Rugby is expected to announce the 12-man squad for Wellington and Sydney in Stellenbosch on Wednesday afternoon.

Coach Neil Powell and his team have been in a training camp since the start of the year, but the recovery of some players, as well as illness amongst others, prevented the full squad from training together from the beginning of the restart camp.

Werner Kok is a long-term injury casualty and has undergone knee surgery, while Cecil Afrika was nursing a persistent hamstring niggle. Although Branco du Preez has recovered from his shoulder rehabilitation, he was laid low with a virus infection.

Powell is, however, confident that his charges are now fully energised again after a well-deserved break and that they are ready for the Australasian leg of the World Series.

“It only took one gruelling session to the guys back into the swing of things again and I'm satisfied with their levels of intensity and mental preparation,” said Powell.

“Last year, in the build-up to Dubai and Cape Town, we spent a lot of time on the basics of our playing structure because we had a lot more fifteens players with us. This time around, we could go straight into the preparation of our game plan, which I think is a big plus.”

The three non-contracted players currently training with the squad are the DHL Western Province duo of Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh, and Ryno Benjamin of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.

All three were instrumental in the team winning their third consecutive home title at the Cape Town Stadium last December, where the tournament was successfully hosted for the first time.

Powell said that he expects that the trio would play even better Down Under. “I'm very happy that we have them available for the first four tournaments of the World Series. They were impressive in Dubai and Cape Town and I know they will improve even more because of the amount of time spent with the rest of the squad.”

The Springbok Sevens have a tough pool draw for Wellington, where they will face hosts, New Zealand, Scotland and Russia. - African News Agency (ANA)

Original source: Blitzbokke gearing up for Wellington

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