Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell is proud of his team’s quick turnaround despite losing the Sydney Sevens final 12-10 to Fiji on Sunday.
The Blitzboks showed massive improvement from last weekend’s poor performances in Hamilton and Powell believes their silver medal in Sydney shows they are on the right path.
‘It’s an incredible turnaround from last weekend, especially the first four games. It was an extremely tough week in terms of the preparation and to get the guys’ mental side of things to a positive again. They’ve really done well and they were so clinical in the pool games and unfortunately that’s what we need going into a semi or a final. To some extent, we played some good rugby in the semis as well but we couldn’t take that into the final against Fiji,’ Powell said.
The Blitzboks beat Argentina, France and Samoa on their way to the semi-final showdown with the USA and after a nervy encounter, a late try by captain Stedman Gans earned them a 19-12 victory and a spot in the final.
Powell, though, feels there a lot of lessons to take from the final match and the weekend as a whole.
‘The guys showed a lot of guts and determination and character in the first few games. It is hurting and it is a bit disappointing but hopefully we could learn a few lessons from this. If you stop learning as a player or a coach then you are in a bad spot – we will take everything from the last game and make sure we learn from what happened in the final.’
He was, however, very impressed with how the younger players in the team stepped up to the occasion, especially after the struggles of last weekend.
‘It is great the depth we have managed to create in the system in the last two years. Credit must go to Marius Schoeman and the academy as well for getting those players at a certain level.’
The former Blitzboks captain is hopeful that the positivity will remain in the team for the rest of the series.
‘With the focus on the Olympic Games, the first few tournaments were always about testing players and see how they go. I am happy where we are – we would’ve loved to have had a better tournament in Hamilton, but overall very pleasing and we can go into the next two rounds with good, positive energy,’ said Powell.
Photo: Ben Hoskin/Getty Images