Having this week returned to Singapore, the scene of a famous comeback victory for South Africa, captain Siviwe Soyizwapi says the red-hot Blitzboks have made a point of focusing on the now.
The 2019 tournament was the last time the World Rugby Sevens Series visited the National Stadium, and very few of the players have forgotten the memorable ending to that tournament, as the Blitzboks overcame a 19-0 deficit in the final to beat Fiji 20-19.
“I was not part of that match as I got injured in the semi-final against the USA and could not play against Fiji in the final,” said Soyizwapi. “It is a bittersweet memory as one always wants to be on the field, especially in a final like that – those are the games you dream of and train for. That said, it was still wonderful to be part of the win, even though I was on the side of the field.”
Soyizwapi says it doesn’t feel as though it has been two years since the Blitzboks played in the humidity of Singapore.
“A lot of the surroundings are the same, the humidity, the friendly hosts around you, the amazing facilities,” he said. “No wonder this was always one of the favourite destinations for us as a team and the fact that the result went our way last time, made it even more so.”
History and the second-best winning streak in World Rugby Sevens Series history will give South Africa plenty of confidence as they prepare to face Canada, Kenya and the USA in Pool A on Saturday.
“We have been on the winning side in 34 matches, but that is something of the past,” added Soyizwapi. “It was also something we had to address, as it is all over the media and many questions on the topic reflect that fact.
“So, there was no way we wanted it to become an elephant in the room for us. It might be a big focus out there, but it is not our focus. We spoke about it and then put it aside and I am confident that it will not be an issue this weekend.”
For Soyizwapi and the Blitzboks, it was all about adapting to the new time zones, humidity and getting the right mindset for the opening day of the tournament.
“I was quite pleased to see how we adapted already with regard to the time-zone difference and the heat and what effort the guys are showing in training since arrival. It is good to see that we are embracing those challenges, there were no excuses and we hit the ground running.”
Blitzbok fixtures – Saturday, 9 April (SAST)
6:34am vs Canada
9:40am vs Kenya
1:33pm vs USA