Australian XVs legend George Gregan’s comments on what one needs to do to
adapt to sevens were interesting. Would Habana be able to make the necessary
said, in an interview with Telegraph Sport: “Take a guy
like [All Blacks winger] Julian Savea, who you would think would be perfect
for sevens, he would have to lose about 4kg because of the high-speed
running and the VO2 (oxygen consumption and aerobic capacity). It is really
demanding. Could he play at that level as well as XVs? No because he needs
those 4kg in XVs. It is that trade-off. You need time to make the adjustment.”
Nick Powell’s side seem to have gas to burn, and the current Habana is Seabelo
Senatla, the 21-year-old. Last season he topped the try-scoring charts for
the Blitzbokke, scoring 29 tries during the season. And it’s fair to say he
has started this campaign pretty well, too. He currently leads the
try-scoring charts, with 20 after three rounds.
Here he is scoring a typically jaw-dropping try, against Kenya on Saturday:
3. South Africa’s all-time points scorer Cecil Afrika is awesome
The 26-year-old playmaker eccliped Fabian Juries’ points record in the
Blitzboks’ 36-0 win over Wales in the final game of day one in Port
Elizabeth. The 2011 IRB World Sevens Player of the Year was born in PE, so
it was fitting that he moved ahead of the 925-point mark at the Nelson
Mandela Bay Stadium.
Afrika already has nine tries this season, and if South Africa are to win this
series, and go on to dominate at Rio, then this man will be at the heart of
4. New Zealand need to freshen up to change their fortunes
They may have been losing finalists in Port Elizabeth, on the wrong end of
26-17, but things have been slipping for a while. The All Blacks Sevens were
pipped to Commonwealth Games gold by the Blitzbokke, and failed to impress
in the opening round of the series on the Gold Coast, losing to England in
the quarter-final. They currently sit third in the overall rankings with 47
points, behind South Africa (59), and Fiji (51). This from the side who have
won 12 of the 15 world series.
There are calls to inject the side with youth. Captain D J Forbes is 32, and
many of their top performers are in their late 20s, including Tim Mikkelson
(28), Sherwin Stowers (28) and Scott Curry (26). They are undoubtedly superb
players, but if there a sense of them being jaded?
5. The referees are impartial and show no favouritism towards New Zealand
At least the All Blacks aura does not affect the impartiality of the
officials. This video of Gillies Kaka being snubbed a high-five, having
scored in his side’s quarter-final victory against USA, is brilliant:
6. USA have gas to burn
We all know about Carlin Isles, who boasts a personal best of 10.13 seconds
for 100 metres (clocking 27mph). But Perry Baker is giving him a run for his
7. England are not at the races
They did well in the opening round of the series, coming third on the Gold
Coast, and beating New Zealand and South Africa en route. And with playmaker
Tom Mitchell – the overall leading points scorer last term – back for Dubai
and Port Elizabeth you would have throught they would only improve.
In both the Middle East and South Africa, however, Simon Amor’s side lost
their last games on day one (to Australia and New Zealand respectively),
meaning a tougher quarter-final draw after finishing second in their groups.
In Port Elizabeth they played the Blitzbokke and lost 31-7, despite scoring
the first points of the game, a converted try. They even conceded when their
opponents were down to six, “the cardinal sin of sevens” as the
Injuries have not helped, but Mitchell and co. need to work hard in the break
over Christmas ahead of the fourth round in New Zealand, which will be
played in early February. They currently sit sixth in the standings, with
only the top four guaranteed a safe passage to the Rio Games.