Blitzboks steer clear of SBW focus

Francois Hougaard and Cheslin Kolbe have reiterated that the Blitzboks can’t afford to focus too much on just one individual at this weekend’s Wellington Sevens.

With the Blitzboks having been drawn in the same pool as New Zealand, much of the pre-tournament build-up has revolved around that blockbuster clash and the prospect of global star Sonny Bill Wiliams making his sevens debut.

However, Hougaard said they couldn’t afford to allow that to become a distraction.

‘Sonny Bill is a great athlete and an amazing talent, and everyone in world rugby knows that. But sevens is a totally different game and I think if people are going to focus too much on him, it’s going to take their focus off their goal. Of course he’ll bring a threat and I’m sure he will be great at the game of sevens, he’s a big guy with a good step and good speed, and he’s obviously known for his offloads.’

Hougaard, who has made a relatively seamless transition to the sevens game, said they were fully aware of what threats Williams could present.

‘With his size and his offloading ability, if he can get momentum and break some tackles, that will allow him to get the offloads away, and in sevens if you break the line then you score almost every time. New Zealand are a team that will certainly do that, so with what Sonny Bill can bring, and with his good feet, he has the ability to manipulate the defence. But we’ve all played against guys like that in 15s and sevens – I think Fiji has 12 Sonny Bills – and I think we’re all just looking forward to seeing what he brings.’

Kolbe, another player with plenty of 15s experience, reiterated Hougaard's sentiment.

‘It’s a good opportunity for players coming from Super Rugby to sevens, but you can’t just focus on one player. If you do that, it then creates opportunities for other players around them. We’ll just aim to stick to our structures and play what’s in front of us.

‘Sevens is a very different ball game, you have to adapt and make quick decisions,’ he added. ‘It’s about who is best on the day and who will play for the person next to them.’

Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

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Craig Lewis