BlitzBoks look to salvage trashed reputation
INTERVIEW: He is not the most vocal player in the Springbok Sevens squad, nor does he prefer to be in the limelight, but Ryan Oosthuizen has embraced his role as a senior player.
South Africa aims to bounce back from the disappointments of last season in the forthcoming Sevens series, which kicks off in Dubai early next month.
The BlitzBok forward is adamant that their deserving support base will have something to smile about in the new season and will be rewarded when they attend the local showpiece event in December, the Cape Town leg of the 2023-24 season.
“We can’t hide from the fact that we underperformed last season,” Oosthuizen said.
“We just did not deliver the results we are capable of as a squad,” he added.
“We can point to the injuries over the season and how that affected us, but in the end, we just were not good enough to do justice to the system and our fans.
“That needs to be rectified and that process will start in that first game against Samoa in Dubai.”
World Rugby released the Dubai pools in the week and South Africa, the defending champions in the desert city, will face defending series champions, New Zealand, Samoa and Canada in Pool A.
The 28-year-old Oosthuizen has quietly grown into one of the senior squad members and is determined to drive standards back to where it was when he joined the BlitzBok set-up way back in the 2016/17 season.
“It is hard to believe how quickly that went,” Oosthuizen said of his 43 World Series tournaments.
“When I joined way back, players such as Chris Dry, Kyle Brown, Philip Snyman and Branco du Preez, to name a few, were senior statesmen and driving the standards.
“Suddenly I am the third most experienced squad member, so that responsibility is one I am now embracing. It was the worst feeling last season and one I never want to encounter again, trust me,” added the law graduate.
Oosthuizen said the squad, since they assembled for the new season, had honest discussions and reflections about their core value system, a well-established recipe for BlitzBok success over many years, including 10 tournament victories in Dubai.
In previous seasons, a good start was a given, an advantage the team should continue to embrace, Oosthuizen said.
“The Dubai crowd is full of South Africans and that helps, while the heat in the desert works in our favour, with us training in very hot conditions in Stellenbosch,” he said.
“Then we come to Cape Town, our only opportunity to play in front of our fans, family, and support base.
“We did win in Dubai last year, but we also need to deliver when we come home the next weekend. We have disappointed our fans, that is a fact, but believe me, we are really working hard to bring the smiles back onto their faces. That comes with winning and that is what we are determined to do.”
The Springbok Sevens squad played several warm-up matches against Australia, who had a training camp in South Africa last month. They were also boosted by the arrival of two standouts of the Junior Springbok class of 2023, Quewin Nortje and Katlego Letebele, as well as Toyota Cheetahs centre David Britz.
The squad will travel to Dubai on 29 November.