BlunderBoks chasing elusive 'white elephant'
SPOTLIGHT: Their quest for automatic qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games may be out of their hands, but the South African Sevens team will leave no stone unturned at the London leg of the World Series this weekend.
They are determined to give it one final push to book their ticket to Paris next year.
Four teams – Sevens World Series winners for 2023 New Zealand, hosts France, Argentina and Fiji – have already secured their places at the Olympics next year.
The BlitzBoks and Samoa are chasing Australia for the final automatic qualification spot.
And for BlitzBok forward James Murphy, there is only one thing the South Africans have to do this weekend to put themselves in a position to secure their place in Paris – win the tournament at Twickenham.
“Talk of Olympic qualification has been somewhat of an elephant in the room lately, as it’s been a goal of us all season long,” said Murphy from London.
“Some things have gone our way and others not, some of it due to our own mistakes and also because of outside reasons.
“However, we are not going to point fingers, as the results only say ‘Springbok Sevens’ and as players, we have to take responsibility for those results.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favours in Toulouse last weekend, but our focus now is on doing the best we can this weekend, as we’ve got the capabilities.
“We will do our very best to finish first or as close to first as possible, as we don’t want to rely on favours from other teams.
“Automatic qualification is certainly not over, and we will give everything we’ve got this weekend.
“But we can’t focus too much on the other teams, as that could lead to us falling – a bit like a game of chess.
“The better we do, the fewer favours we’ll need and that is why we’ve got a ‘no excuse’ mindset this week as we aim to finish as high as possible.
“If we can win, the rest will look after itself.”
The BlitzBoks will face Great Britain, the United States and New Zealand in their pool games on Saturday, and although it’s a tall order, Murphy believes they can atone for some “soft moments” last weekend in France.
“Looking back, we let ourselves down in some of those games, and we have to ensure we are 100 percent focused 100 percent of the time,” he said.
“This weekend, we can rectify the mistakes, such as a few restarts that didn’t work out, or missing some soft tackles. We are pulling tight as a group and our focus is on that first game against Great Britain.
“Only if we get through that game, we’ll look at the USA and then New Zealand, the benchmark and best team in the world at the moment. But there is no such thing as an easy game on the World Series and we will have to fire from the word go.”