Blitzboks coach calls for intensity

Neil Powell has called on an 'inexperienced' bench to make an impact in this weekend's Sydney Sevens.

The Springbok Sevens suffered an agonising defeat in the Cup final of last weekend's Wellington Sevens, but still occupy top spot on the World Rugby Sevens Series standings.

However, the Blitzboks have suffered a dreadful run of injuries so far this season, which have ruled out several regulars such as Werner Kok, Frankie Horne, Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, Branco du Preez and Rayno Benjamin. Justin Geduld became the latest injury casualty when he returned home on Monday following a shoulder injury picked up in Wellington.

Apart from the spate of injuries, Powell is also rotating his squad with an eye on the Olympic Games in August, and perhaps more importantly, to blood some newcomers on the series circuit. Carel du Preez has only four caps, Dylan Sage has played in just two tournaments while Sandile Ngcobo was a debutant in Wellington. Tim Agaba is uncapped and set to make his debut in Sydney.

'Our bench is very inexperienced and the challenge for the replacements will be to maintain the same level of momentum and intensity when they run onto the field,' Powell commented.

The Blitzboks are playing in Pool B against Scotland, Russia and Kenya, and Powell said he expected a huge battle for the two qualifying spots.

'The Scots will punish you if you offer them any room to play. They are good with ball in hand and have a strong defence, so a good start against them will be key for us.'

Photo: Marty Melville/AFP Photo

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Craig Lewis