Paul Treu says the Springbok Sevens want to build on their plate final victory over Australia in Dubai at the George tournament this weekend.
The Blitzboks displayed inconsistent form at the opening World Series leg in Dubai last weekend, which saw them draw 19-19 against Scotland while they relinquished a 19-7 lead to lose 21-19 against Fiji in the cup quarter-finals. South Africa managed to finish on a positive note as they beat Australia 19-12 in the plate final with an impressive performance.
Head coach Treu says the team plans to rectify their errors ahead of the next tournament at Outeniqua Park.
‘We should’ve never lost to Fiji after leading 19-7. If we had won that match, we could’ve gone on to win the tournament,’ Treu told keo.co.za.
‘Defence has been a concern for us. There have been missed tackles while some of the hits made are not good enough as the opposition sometimes have the opportunity to offload in the tackle. We also need to secure more of our possession at the breakdown and concede less penalties. These are the kind of things we have been working on.
‘In the plate final against Australia, the team proved that if we make those big hits and run the right channels, we can win those big games. We plan to continue that momentum in George this weekend.’
Treu has made three changes to his squad, one forced and two tactical. Renfred Dazel is out with a concussion and Paul Delport will replace him while Jacques Engelbrecht and Stephen Hunt are promoted ahead of Lubabalo Mtembu and MJ Mentz respectively.
‘We want to give our players opportunities early in the competition. There’s no use if we bring them in midway or towards the end of the World Series,’ said Treu.
‘Unfortunately Renfred failed his medical test. Luckily we have a quality player in Paul to come in for him. Jacques and Stephen come in as tactical changes. We started this season with eight new players and we want everyone to get an opportunity to prove they deserve a place in the team.’
While Treu plans to test new combinations, Cecil Afrika will be his key man in only his second season as a Blitzbok. The former Griffons speedster was the team’s star last weekend in Dubai as he performed well throughout the tournament. He finished the top try scorer in Dubai with 10 tries and also scored 72 points. His best performance came in the Plate final against Australia as he scored all the team’s points in the victory.
‘Cecil was outstanding in Dubai,’ said Treu. ‘Last season, he didn’t play that well because he was new to the sevens format and he played scrumhalf, where his attacking strengths were wasted.
‘But now he’s playing with confidence as he knows what to expect at this level. He will be our key player as he will spearhead our attack.’
This weekend could be the last George tournament as the city’s contract with Saru expires next year. Cape Town and Port Elizabeth are tipped to be the new hosts of the South African leg, but according to Treu, the venue doesn’t matter.
‘It doesn’t matter if we’re in George, Cape Town, Nelspruit or PE. We want to do the country proud whenever we play in front of our home fans. We plan to do well this weekend,’ said Treu.
By Gareth Duncan