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Discipline key for BlitzBoks in Vancouver

SVNS SPOTLIGHT: Zain Davids has travelled to Canada six times and returned with three gold medals, but that has not stopped the Blitzbok forward’s winning appetite, who arrived in Vancouver for a seventh HSBC SVNS Canada tournament.

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And while the 26-year-old forward would not mind another gold medal, it would be more from a team perspective than a personal goal.

“I’ve had a good run here and that is why this tournament ranks amongst my favourites, but this trip is not about me, it is about us as a squad playing to our potential and achieving our goals,” said Davids.

When he runs out at BC Place this weekend, it will be in his 45th HSBC SVNS tournament, which underlines the fact that Davids remains an important cog in the Blitzbok machine. His well-timed runs have resulted in 38 tries in this time, but more significant is his 45 tackles made in the first three tournaments of the 2024 season, the most by any player thus far.

Despite his stellar performance on defence, Davids was quick to point out that they still came up short in Perth in the last tournament: “We worked really hard in the training camp back home to rectify those errors made in Perth and we will be better for that, comes this weekend.”

The hard-running prop also tipped his hat to his teammates: “We have a good squad here, a nice mix of seniors and youngsters that complement each other.

“The seniors provide good guidance to the younger players, and they bring the energy and that boosts the older guys as well. It is also good to have Impi [Visser] back with us in the forwards, he is a real workhorse and when he is around, everyone else is inspired to work as hard.

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“Discipline will be key for us, especially against tough pool opponents such as Ireland, New Zealand and Great Britain. They love to keep the ball and our defence will be key to stop that, but without conceding penalties in the process.”

Where Davids looks to inflict sheer blunt force trauma to his opponents, expect Shaun Williams to be all tip-toe and elusive, either in the sweeper position or wing.

The 25-year-old makes a welcome return to the team after hip surgery, a frustrating but sobering experience for the 13 times capped Blitzbok, whose last outing with the team was in London last May.

“It was my second operation on the hip, so it was a bit frustrating because you want to be on the field and represent your country,” said Williams.

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“But I kept a positive mindset during the rehab time, telling myself to stay focussed on getting better, but more importantly, to get into the best shape I can be. That way I could push hard for a spot in the team and be ready when the call-up comes.”

Williams admitted it was not easy to sit in a team meeting and when they left for the training field, he had to go to a rehab session, but he’s happy that those four months have now passed. He has scored 140 points in his career – 22 tries and 15 conversions – and is keen to add to that tally when opportunity knocks in BC Place.

“I made my debut here in Vancouver, so this will always be a special tournament and place for me,” he smiled.

“I have not played this season, so this is also my season debut, more reason to love being here.

“For four months I had to support the guys from the sideline, finally I get to add to the effort by being on the field and what an opportunity it is going to be. I cannot wait to play for the Blitzboks again.”

 

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