The Springbok Sevens team will have an extra day of preparation as they gear up for the fifth leg of the World Sevens Series in Los Angeles this weekend.
A new route to the USA, a change in format and a new venue for the tournament has provided Neil Powell’s squad with additional time to sharpen up on their skills ahead of the team’s first-ever trip to Los Angeles.
The squad travelled from Cape Town to Los Angeles via Newark, which eliminated 11 hours of their average travel time to the USA, while the venue of the first of two North American tournaments was moved from Nevada to the Californian coast.
Furthermore, the Las Vegas tournament was a three-day event, with Los Angeles being played on Saturday and Sunday.
These factors will help the Blitzboks in their final preparation this week, confirmed Powell.
‘The flight already made a huge difference for us,’ said Powell. ‘It is the first time we flew directly to the USA, normally we went via London and had another transit before getting to Las Vegas, where the Friday start meant a three-day turnaround.
‘This time out, we cut out travel time and an extra flight, so we’ll have more than enough time to recover and prepare.’
Los Angeles is a new destination for us so we are a bit more excited than usual. Fact, only assistant coach Renfred Dazel has been to LA before. He played for the Blitzboks when the USA leg of @WorldRugby7s was held in Los Angeles from 1999 to 2006. @LASevensRugby here we come! pic.twitter.com/oQirgRhmh8
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) February 23, 2020
Powell feels fairly settled with his team and only made three changes to the squad that ran out at the last tournament in Sydney, something that will assist in continuing with the momentum gained in Australia.
‘Yes, we did travel to Australasia with half a dozen changes from the Cape Town leg and that had a bigger impact than expected in our performances in Hamilton,’ admitted Powell.
‘The Sydney effort was much more to our standards and one we need to back up here in the USA.’
Back in Stellenbosch, Powell had to adjust his plans for the North American trip to Los Angeles and Vancouver after the news that the next two tournaments, Hong Kong and Singapore, were rescheduled for October.
‘That had an impact on our planning and the way we wanted to manage some players and even management,’ said Powell. ‘The end goal of the season remains the Olympic Games in Japan in July and how we arrive there best prepared, so we needed to change our plans when those two tournaments were moved to October.
‘We are still trying to find ways to counter that 10-week period that will now be without matches and we are discussing various options. For the here and now, the extra day in Los Angeles will give us more time to recover and then prepare for what awaits us on Saturday.
‘We have done some good work back home, but there is still work needed on defence and on attack, where we can be sharper. We are striving for a perfect performance, so will work hard this week.’
The Blitzboks begin their LA Sevens campaign on Saturday against Kenya at 9:35pm [SA time], before facing Canada at 12:53am on Sunday morning. Their final Pool B match is at 5:05am against Ireland – a team they are yet to face during the current series.
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