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BlitzBoks women activate fight mode in Madrid

SPOTLIGHT: The BlitzBoks Women squad understand very well what is at stake in Madrid this weekend and are adamant it will be a matter of fight, not flight in their quest for survival in their approach to this weekend’s HSBC SVNS play-off tournament.

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South Africa face Argentina, Belgium and Brazil in pool play and need to win those matches, and the resulting quarter-final to preserve their status on the world series.

For two experienced campaigners, Eloise Webb and Libbie Janse van Rensburg, it will be all about the squad’s needs and how to get to their objective of surviving the play-offs and remain a core team in the 2025 season, rather than personal achievement or glory.

“We know what is at stake,” Webb said after the squad had a warm-up match against Japan earlier on Tuesday.

“We need to finish in the top four and for that, we need to win our first four matches. There is no other way, and we are not approaching it otherwise.

“Our first game against Argentina will have to set the tone and we then face Belgium and Brazil before the quarter-final. We are not backing away from this fight.

“We are not a team to shy away from danger and it is definitely fight before flight for us. We realise we play not only for ourselves, but also for the people back home. Young girls can now watch us play on TV and we need to inspire them to take up the game as well. To be able to do that, we need to make sure we stay on the circuit.”

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Webb insists their approach will not be emotional: “We will have a measured approach, as we have learnt some lessons over the last season. This team really play for each other and that makes it worth the effort.

“It is such a great feeling when we bring it together from the training field to match day. One of the important lessons learnt was that you cannot look further than the next game. You play minute to minute, game for game and do not make one game bigger than the next. That will be the focus again,” added Webb.

Janse van Rensburg said the forced injury lay-off following a groin operation almost six months ago was frustrating, but now that she is back in the squad for the first time since the opening tournament of the series in Dubai, she realizes it was an uplifting experience too.

“You could see how the squad improved – it happened right in front of our eyes,” said Janse van Rensburg. “At every tournament a new aspect of play was experienced and mastered, and the team grew.

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“We have a good idea what to expect this weekend. We experienced the knock-out element of this tournament in the Challenger Series last year. We responded well back then, and I know we can do that again.”

Janse van Rensburg believes those experiences will be rewarded: “The added experience of regularly playing against the top sides in the world gave us confidence that we can stay in the series. We know what is at stake and how important it is to stay here. We will fight until the end to be successful.

“This tournament is not about individuals. Yes, everyone needs to bring their particular skill set to the squad, but we will have to fight as a team to be successful, something I know this squad is capable of.”

 

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