New-look Blitzboks ready for action in Hamilton

GettyImages 1245539396

Apart from the usual issues with time differences and home advantage for New Zealand, they are introducing new players to the game.

Branco du Preez has retired while JC Pretorius, Muller du Plessis and Sako Makata have crossed to 15s rugby.

That has left five players only in the squad who have played in more than 10 tournaments. Their role will be important after South Africa slipped to fourth place in the Cape Town round after losing to Samoa in extra time in their semifinal.

One of those more experienced players Impi Visser told South African media, "We've lost a couple of regulars, so, it's important that we get the young guys up to speed, and on the same page quickly.

"Luckily, the younger guys are very excited, and they bring a different energy to the team, so, it's going to be interesting to see what they produce at the weekend.

"But, it's also a tough tournament considering the 11-hour time difference, so it's important to have guys who know how to approach this tour.

"We have a few experienced guys who know all about it, including coach Philip [Snyman], and I think it helps to have those guys here, to guide the younger players and show them the ropes so they can more easily slot into this new time zone."

The South Africans recognised that it wasn't only home support for the All Blacks Sevens they had to contend with.

"It's basically the islanders' home tournament, and the stadium will be painted blue, especially with all the Fijian supporters in attendance. The atmosphere will be great, but it's always tough to come play this far east, and we love the challenge and we're looking forward to the weekend," he said.


View all