Preview: Cape Town Sevens
PREVIEW: The BlitzBoks will be looking to make good use of their home ground advantage when the inaugural Cape Town Sevens kicks off on Saturday.
The South Africans were knocked out of the Cup section in Dubai last weekend by the USA and will be looking to make amends in front of a sold out crowd at the Cape Town Stadium.
It will not be easy though as they will be without the services of World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Werner Kok, while playmaker extraordinaire Cecil Afrika will also be absent with a hamstring string.
They have also been drawn in a tough pool with England, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
However, Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown is confident that replacements Dylan Sage and Rosko Specman will be up to the task
"We brought Dylan and Rosko in to bolster the squad. The played in the invitational team tournament last week in Dubai and they did really well and stepped up nicely.
"Rosko is ready to rock and roll. He is a fantastic player, so it's really exciting to see him and I think Sage has had his head down for the last four or five weeks. He joined us and he has been phenomenal," said Brown.
Brown was also impressed with the performances of 15-man players Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh in Dubai last week. He will be looking for more of the same from them in Cape Town this weekend.
"I'm very stoked at the moment, especially with the way they shifted around and got tested in different situations.
"Juan was playing a bit of centre and wing. Hougie [Hougaard] played sweeper and a little bit at flyhalf and wing also. I think both of them put their hands up very well.
"Cheslin [Kolbe] was phenomenal whole weekend. He had to step up very quickly after Cecil [Afrika] got injured and Rayno's [Benjamin] work ethic is second to none and that is one of the huge reasons we brought him in," Brown added.
Meanwhile, USA Sevens captain Madison Hughes will be wanting his team to build on their impressive showing in Dubai.
The USA finished third overall in the desert with wins against New Zealand Sevens [twice] and the BlitzBoks being the big highlights for them.
Hughes, however, does not want to dwell in the past.
"We will take one game at a time and our performances in Dubai is now something of the past. This is a new tournament with new challenges and everyone knows now after Dubai what everyone can bring over the two days," said Hughes.
Although his team is firmly focussed on Cape Town this week, Hughes believes their performance in Dubai has done wonders for the sport of Sevens in the US.
"In the States rugby has to compete with American football, basketball and ice hockey, but by us performing well on the world stage, gives the game a boost in our country. I am looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we will do well again," he added.
The USA have been drawn in Pool C with Australia, Wales and Portugal. Pool A sees Dubai's Cup winners Fiji up against Argentina, Scotland and Russia.
New Zealand find themselves in a tricky pool (D) with Samoa, France and Canada.
Fiji currently lead the overall World Sevens Series standings with their Cup win in the opening leg in Dubai last week.
Pool A: Fiji, Argentina, Scotland, Russia
Pool B: England, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe
Pool C: USA, Australia, Wales, Portugal
Pool D: New Zealand, Samoa, France, Canada
Schedule - Saturday, December 12:
(kick-off is local time - GMT minus two hours)
Match One: United States v Wales - 10.15
Match Two: Australia v Portugal - 10.37
Match Three: Fiji v Scotland - 10.59
Match Four: Argentina v Russia - 11.21
Match Five: New Zealand v France - 11.43
Match Six: Samoa v Canada - 12.05
Match Seven: England v Kenya - 12.27
Match Eight: South Africa v Zimbabwe - 12.49
Match Nine: United States v Portugal - 13-36
Match 10: Australia v Wales - 13.58
Match 11: Fiji v Russia - 14.20
Match 12: Argentina v Scotland - 14.42
Match 13: New Zealand v Canada - 15.04
Match 14: Samoa v France - 15.26
Match 15: England v Zimbabwe - 15.48
Match 16: South Africa v Kenya - 16.10
Match 17: Wales v Portugal - 16.57
Match 18: United States v Australia - 17.19
Match 19: Scotland v Russia - 17.41
Match 20: Fiji v Argentina - 18.03
Match 21: France v Canada - 18.50
Match 22: New Zealand v Samoa - 19.12
Match 23: Kenya v Zimbabwe - 19.34
Match 24: South Africa v England - 19.56
By Warrem Fortune