Powell getting tough on bumbling BlitzBoks
REACTION: South African coach Neil Powell’s patience is wearing thin with his under-performing team.
The BlitzBoks finished fifth in the Sydney leg of the Sevens World Series at the weekend.
They ended the tournament – Round Four in the series – with an impressive 12-10 win over Australia in the fifth place play-off.
However, it was a weekend contrasted by good wins and shocking defeats – as they somehow managed to retain their fourth position on the series standings.
Powell said some “honesty” and “frank discussions” will follow when the team has its de-brief back at its base in Stellenbosch.
“We need to be tough on ourselves in what is going wrong,” Powell said of the two-time defending World Series champions’ poor start to the 2018-19 season.
They have reached the semifinals just once.
“Also, in team selection, I think the players in form need to start, despite the number of tournaments or experience they have.
“We had too many slow starts in the tournament and that resulted in having to play catch-up.
“Against the big teams that is fatal.”
The team remained on the top four in the standings, but are now 19 points behind the log leaders, New Zealand and the United States.
“The main focus still remains Olympic qualification with a top-four finish, so we have to improve all the time,” Powell said.
Powell said the inconsistency in performances was frustrating.
“It was a frustrating weekend yes,” the BlitzBok coach said, adding: “At times we played really good sevens, but too often we failed in some basics.
“We would have a good half and then follow that up by a poor one.
“If we can’t get the basics right, we can’t expect to play in finals and semifinals.”
The coach said the usual spark seemed missing at times.
“We were a bit quiet in the warm-up before England [in the quarterfinal] and that is not the normal culture in the team.
“We need to be mentally and physically ready for knock-out matches and that is something we will have a look at as we get back home and start preparing for the Las Vegas event.”
Powell refused to blame the lack of experience amongst the ranks for some of the errors made, but admits that lessons learned must be implemented.
“Look, you are going to make mistakes.
“We had Jacobus [Pretorius] on debut and Impi [Visser] in only his fourth tournament, so we must realise there is a transition taking place.
“We still need to cut out mistakes though. We conceded a yellow card again and you cannot play with six men against the likes of England, Fiji and New Zealand.”