Sun, 16 Jun 2019

Cape Town - All the teams in the World Rugby Sevens Series play to their own beat, but few would argue that the broad smiles from the Blitzboks, just before every match kicks off, is one of the most recognised elements of the world showpiece.

Those smiles say a lot about the team and the real enjoyment they have lining up next to each other as they get ready to give it their all for their country.

According to Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi there will no difference in mind-set, attitude or the enjoyment factor when the HSBC London Sevens kicks off at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, as the squad finalised preparations for their Pool A encounters with Japan, Canada and Argentina on Saturday.

"We just want to end the season off with enjoyment," said Soyizwapi.

"We always say there is fun and there is enjoyment. We want to use this tournament to come together as a team and celebrate who we are by going out there and having fun."

Winning tournaments can be a serious business, but according to Soyizwapi, it does not have to restrict anyone: "We know we want to go out to improve as individuals and to become better as a team. It is hard work out there, but why not have fun doing it? Playing with these guys around you is such a pleasure anyway, one cannot help but smile."

The leader of the pack this weekend said their preparation went well since arriving in London.

"We went through our processes and can't wait for the weekend to start," said Soyizwapi.

"Motivation comes easy as we all want to play for each other, for the family back home, for our supporters and for our country. That is what makes playing at this level so special and that is why we enjoy it so much."

Soyizwapi feels the balance in the squad will make them real contenders this weekend: "I think we got the balance right in the last couple of tournaments and that helped us to perform at our best.

"On the one side we have Branco (du Preez), who is playing in his 70thtournament, a new record for us. This is a very tough game and for him to still be around is testimony of his huge will to perform. He is an example to all of us.

"Then we have JC Pretorius, who is playing in his first season and only his third or fourth tournament, but is very talented and exciting. The news guys bring good energy and the older guys provide the experience and guidance."

Pretorius, who earned a recall to the side after recovering from a thumb operation, reckons his smile would probably be broadest: "This is such a great group of guys. I was out due to injury, but the moment I started training again, I was embraced by friendliness and acceptance.

"We all want to play for this team, so I was delighted to make the final squad. The last couple of weeks were tough as everyone wanted to make that final squad. The training sessions were intense, but that was great for all of us, because it made us better players."

Pretorius made the Dream Team in his last tournament, in March in Vancouver, and he is keen to repeat that performance: "I found nice rhythm in Las Vegas and then Vancouver, so I will be keen to do so again here in London. I am itching to play."

The London Sevens pools are:

A: South Africa, Argentina, Canada, Japan

B: Fiji, Samoa, France, Kenya

C: England, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland

D: USA, Australia, Wales, Spain

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