Snyman wants to see some Springbok Sevens swagger in Singapore

rugby02 May 2024 07:00| © SuperSport
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Philip Snyman © Gallo Images

Philip Snyman captained the Springbok Sevens in a golden era where HSBC SVNS titles and Olympic and Commonwealth Games podium finishes where the order of the day.

As the head coach of the Blitzboks heading into his third tournament at the helm, this weekend in Singapore, one could be sceptical about his optimism for a top four finish, given the team’s performances so far in the world series.

Their form this season will result in a finish outside of the top six on the log when the series winners will be confirmed at the National Stadium on Sunday.

Snyman's belief stems from some selection changes, more time with the squad and a gut feel about a season that can still be rescued.

“We have a couple of experienced campaigners back in Siviwe Soyizwapi, Dylan Sage and Rosko Specman, while the inclusion of Tiaan Pretorius and Tristan Leyds will add some exciting game breaking abilities,” said Snyman.

“But what excites me the most is the starting line-up that was retained from Hong Kong, where we topped the pool and made the quarterfinals.

“I am confident that the new players coming in, vastly experienced and skilful as they are, will add to the skill set we already have in the core group. I don't think our goal to top the pool and then make it into at least the top four is unrealistic.”

The Blitzboks face Spain, Samoa and France in their pool, three teams Snyman feels are capable of beating the best, as they have proved during the very competitive 2024 series.

“All three will be tough opponents, but for now, we are just focusing on Spain in our first game on Friday,” he said.

“They have been playing very well lately and will provide a good challenge to our new look squad. We are not going to look past this first game – we only play France on Saturday morning. For tomorrow, Spain is our main goal, and once that is done, we will look at Samoa as the next opponent.”

Snyman also points to a longer play in the season: “We want to use this opportunity in Singapore to get much needed momentum and confidence to go into the next two big tournaments for us, the Grand Finale in Madrid at the end of the month and then the Olympic repechage in Monaco in June.

“If we can get going here in Singapore, as I believe we can, we will go to Madrid and Monaco with some form and Paris 2024 can become a realistic goal.”

Confirming his coach's belief, Pretorius said the Blitzboks will be competitive this weekend.

“We are really geared up for this one as we all understand the importance of getting some momentum for the remainder of the season,” said Pretorius.

“In my case, I also have a point to proof. I last played in Cape Town, but got injured and that was a bit of a downer. But I am back now, fit and ready and keen to contribute to the team goals for the weekend.”

Pretorius admits that having Kwagga Smith, a double Rugby World Cup Winner with the Springboks and a former Blitzbok, as an uncle has been inspirational in his own rugby career.

“Look what he has achieved due to hard work,” said Pretorius. “His success came because he outworked others wherever he played. That inspires me, as it shows that it can be done. He also got bronze at the Olympics and that for now, is something that that I can relate and aspire to.”

Pretorius understands that a good performance in Singapore can put him on the inside lane for Madrid and Monaco: “There were some changes in the squad since I last played and the change in belief is the one I liked most. The team realise that the season is not over and that a lot can still be achieved. I want to be part of that.”

Springbok Sevens pool schedule (SA times, all matches on SuperSport):

Friday 3 May

07h58: Spain

13h10: Samoa

Saturday 4 May

08h24: France