Captain Siviwe Soyizwapi says the Blitzboks are prepared for a new set of challenges that come with the return of England, Scotland and Wales as separate competing entities in the Sevens Series.
Tournaments in Malaga and Seville have been added to the World Series, in place of Hamilton and Sydney, and in addition to the excitement of playing at new venues, Soyizwapi is also happy to welcome back Wales, Scotland and England to the normal ebb and flow of the circuit.
These countries participated as Great Britain last year in Canada and Dubai – where the 2022 series kicked off – in all four tournaments, which were won by the Blitzboks and where they had to beat the combined UK squad on the way to glory.
“Yes, it is almost a fresh start to the year, as we are heading off to Spain and not Australasia as we did in the past,” Soyizwapi said.
“There is excitement because of the new venues and added to that the return of Scotland, Wales and England will be welcomed by all. It gives a new dynamic to the series again, and it gives us different challenges.
“It is always good to be tested in different ways and having three ‘new’ opponents, as familiar as they were in the past, is great for the tournament and the squads playing.”
Soyizwapi welcomed the return of a number of senior players to South Africa’s squad, which showed five changes from the victorious group that featured in Dubai.
“Despite the unknown element of new venues, the calming part of the tour is the fact that we have five guys back from injury,” Soyizwapi explained. “We have most of the guys back from injury now in our wider squad and that will make things easier.
“We don’t need a different approach on how we want to do things, the five guys who came back are all very experienced and all have played for us before. They looked sharp in training and showed why they were selected in the first place.”
Soyizwapi then lauded the way the returnees – Justin Geduld, Mfundo Ndhlovu, Sako Makata, Darren Adonis and Dewald Human – seamlessly transitioned back into the team environment.
“Although they might not have played in recent tournaments, their attitudes remained spot on and they are still living the culture, which is great,” he said.
The Blitzboks were due to play England and Scotland as well as Fiji in Pool A, but the latter had withdrawn from the tournament due to positive Covid-19 cases in their squad.