Powell sees light at the end of dark LA tunnel
REACTION: South African Sevens coach Neil Powell would be forgiven if he wanted to block from his mind his squad’s performance at the weekend’s Los Angeles leg of the World Series.
The BlitzBoks choked in spectacular fashion, finishing 13th – the lowest placed finish since Powell took charge 10 years ago.
Ironically and sadly for the experienced coach, his 75th tournament was also his last with the team in the World Sevens Series.
Although their overall second place in the 2022 World Series will bring a silver medal to Powell’s war chest, the performance in LA will do nothing to inspire confidence with the World Cup Sevens a mere 10 days away.
“We need to look back at this tournament before we can look towards Cape Town,” Powell said.
“There are lessons to learn from the weekend, so discarding what happened here will not be the best thing to do.”
Powell will take it upon himself and his management to do the soul searching.
“It is more for our management; the players need to stay positive,” he said.
“It was a poor performance, but we did see some positives.
“The last game against Japan was much more to our standard and we will use that positive example of what we can do as a team to create some momentum on our way to Cape Town in 10 days.”
The short turnaround – the team only arrive back in Cape Town on Tuesday – will demand clever management, Powell admitted.
“We will need to plan our sessions from here on in to make sure we get the best result out of every training session,” he said.
“Our consistency over the last five tournaments was not great, and it is a bit of a worry.
“We recovered so well to hit a high at the Commonwealth Games, but in the World Series, it became an issue.
“It is a worry, because our consistency over long periods of time almost became a hallmark of the team.”
There is always some light for Powell, even in the darkest gloom.
“On the flip side, we showed that we can get into the right frame of mind to win standalone tournaments, like we showed at the Commonwealth Games.
“That is a positive and we need to have that same mindset come the World Cup Sevens.
“Much of that will depend on how we train in the next ten days and that will be the biggest focus of the coaching team, we need to make sure we can create that momentum in training that will be needed to do well in Cape Town.”
Powell said the injuries to Zain Davids, Dewald Human and Darren Adonis could not come at a worst time.
Davids was included in the Dream Team for the 2022 season, a confirmation of his stellar contributions, but an ankle injury could rule him out of the World Cup Sevens.
Human and Adonis will be assessed on Wednesday.
“We are already a bit thin on tighthead and flyhalf and those injuries are not making our job easier,” the coach admitted.
“Zain’s inclusion into the Dream Team was well earned and it will be a blow if he cannot make it to Cape Town.”