Blitzboks coach Neil Powell says they have used the break in the sevens season to work on their fitness and conditioning ahead of a long haul of fixtures that will conclude with the Sevens World Cup in Cape Town.
Having last played in the Spain Sevens double-header in Malaga and Seville in January, the Blitzboks have enjoyed a short break in the season, but have used their free time to fine-tune themselves with a busy run of fixtures to come.
Powell’s side currently leads the World Sevens Series standings, having claimed gold in all four tournaments played so far this season. They will resume their campaign in April with the Singapore Sevens on the 9th and 10th, before moving on to play in Vancouver on the 16th and 17th.
That will start a long run of games that also includes the Commonwealth Games from 29-31 July and culminates in the Sevens World Cup on home soil in Cape Town in September.
With that in mind, Powell says the Blitzboks have been using the current break wisely to make sure the players are locked and loaded for the second half of the season.
“It’s actually a good thing for the guys to have a bit of a break,” Powell explained. “We have had a two-week block now where we have worked a little bit on conditioning. When you do go on tour, there isn’t much time to do the fitness and gym activities. You do tend to get a bit unfit and your strength goes a bit down. It was important for us to get that strength up again because we do pride ourselves on being one of the fittest teams on the World Series.
“We will give the guys another break before we go into our pre-departure block in preparation for Singapore and Vancouver. There has been a big off-field focus for these last two weeks but when we come back it will be a lot more technical and on-field.
“When you are in a normal season, it’s almost a case of just surviving and managing. There’s not really enough time to really work and coach again. I think that is what has been great about this break. We can really work on things that we feel that we haven’t done well and also work on individual skills and improving individuals. So, it’s been a massive positive for us to have this break so we can be more specific.
“I am happy where we are. With almost two months between the tournaments, it has been important to get the balance right. We can’t allow the guys to get mentally fatigued. So we had to balance giving them enough rest and also make sure that are physically and mentally ready to do well in Singapore.”
Powell says a major focus for the next handful of tournaments will be on managing the squad and making sure that everyone has enough game time before the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“We know when we get back, if all the tournaments take place, it’s going to be busy all the way until September when we play in the World Cup in Cape Town. We will use the next few tournaments as buildup to the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, but our focus will be on the next tournament in Singapore.
“We will look at the amount of time the players have played in the last four tournaments and see if we need to manage some of the guys and give others an opportunity. For the rest of the World Series, we will also test different combinations that we haven’t had in the last four tournaments to make sure that when we get to the World Cup we know what we will get from the individuals and combinations.”
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