FRESH off their first HSBC World Sevens Series win of the year in Dubai, the Blitzboks arrived in Port Elizabeth for the third leg of the circuit in fine fettle on Monday.
Coach Neil Powell will have the same squad at his disposal, where veteran Frankie Horne will compete in his 62nd consecutive World Sevens Series tournament, stretching his own record further.
Statistically, SA’s numbers stack up well and they have duly received top seeding for their home tournament, where anything less than another title will be seen as failure.
After claiming their fourth Dubai crown — but their first since 2008 — and their third tournament victory under Powell since he became coach at the beginning of the 2013-14 season, they are in a good place.
Seabelo Senatla is the series’ leading try-scorer with 12 in two tournaments, which included two in the Dubai final against Australia. The Blitzboks won 33-7 to complete a brilliant day in which they racked up 101 points against seven lost in the knockout stages, with a 40-0 win over Argentina and a 28-0 win over New Zealand.
The players around Senatla ooze class. Werner Kok, named player of the tournament in Dubai, is a real handful on defence and at the breakdown. Cecil Afrika’s gifts of timing, pace and vision keep on giving, while Kwagga Smith’s step, speed and ability to run great lines has helped take SA’s play to another level.
With Horne’s directness and physicality, captain Kyle Brown’s brain and brawn, and Cheslin Kolbe’s mesmerising feet, there is hardly a weakness in the team. And now they have confidence going for them too.
In PE, SA head Pool A, where they will face Wales (who they beat 12-5 in Dubai last week), Kenya and the US.
Qualification for the Cup should be a formality for the Blitzboks. SA have met the US 29 times and lost only twice, but the last time was last year in the plate semifinal in London. Kenya have recorded only four wins against SA in 38 meetings. SA have been superb against Wales, winning 36 of their 37 clashes.