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South Africa keep Sevens pressure on

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    08 Dec 2017     Getty Images

One of the key performers for the side will be Kwagga Smith, a player who has been in action several times against New Zealand sides in 2017, most significantly being sent off in the Investec Super Rugby final against the Crusaders.
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He was also a star turn in the Barbarians game against the All Blacks at Twickenham on the recent northern tour.

Returning to the Blitzbokke for the Sevens series, he scored a try against the All Blacks Sevens in the final in Dubai.

"It was great to score in the final. I always enjoy playing against New Zealand, that's when you can measure yourself and improve – against world-class players.

"So I can take confidence from that, but I also know that I'm going to have to put in the hard work this week, just to take confidence from training into this weekend," he told IOL.co.za.

Converting from 15s to Sevens last week had been a matter of telling himself to do the basics right.

"The team performed really well, and if that's the case, it's easy for anybody to stand out. We just have to start from scratch this week.

"Everybody wants to perform and everybody wants to take the Cup in Cape Town. It won't be easy. We're in a physical pool [France, Russia, Kenya] and we just have to lay the foundation and build on that for the other games," he said.

New Zealand, beaten finalists in Dubai, are in a pool with Australia, Spain and the United States.

A factor in South Africa's Dubai win had been the experience they could call on, especially with key players returning from injuries, and they had gelled well.

"The spirit in the team was phenomenal in Dubai, and the week building up to the week was also great, it went so quickly. It was very special for me to be part of that again," he said.

Meanwhile, Blitzbokke coach Neil Powell believes his team can be 10-15 percent better in Cape Town.

With several players having played 15s since their world sevens series success last year, Powell said there had been a lot of readjustment involved in the Dubai performance.

"I think it's a very good thing that the players were exposed to fifteens. They picked up characteristics there that are going to help them a lot to be better Sevens players. I think the only concern was if we would have enough time to get the guys Sevens fit," he said.

"We needed to get them used to Sevens habits again. I think we were reasonably successful in doing that. But we're not there yet, we can get 10-15 percent better than what we were at the weekend," he said.