There will be time for reflection of what it means to captain the Springbok Sevens team at the HSBC Spain Sevens in Seville this weekend, but for Impi Visser the real issue when they run out at the Estadio Olympico de la Cartjuna on Saturday will be to ensure they hit the ground running.
The 26-year-old prop points to the fact that the Blitzboks will be facing Spain first up on Saturday and will have to be match ready, especially as the home side would have played their first match on Friday already (against USA), while South Africa have a first round bye due to Fiji again missing out because of COVID complications.
Like last week, South Africa will – alongside the other two teams in Pool A – be awarded three match points and a 0-0 score line due to the Fijians not being able to play in Spain.
“We will have to be spot on come Saturday, as we have a bye on Friday and will not be in the same position as Spain and USA, who would have played a game already,” said Visser, adding that he was comfortable that the players have regrouped from last week’s win in Malaga.
“We needed to get back to ground zero once we arrived here and I think the guys did that well.
“We don’t really count the number of matches won; we only care about what we need to do to do justice to our jersey and the values of the Blitzbok team. We are only looking at contributing to the system, not winning streaks or things like that.”
The fact that he is officially the team leader in place of the injured Siviwe Soyizwapi will be processed in good time, Visser said.
“The real emotion of running onto the field as tournament captain is immense and difficult to describe in words,” he said.
“It’s fair to say it is huge for me and the real meaning of this will come to me later, I am sure. There have been legends of the game before me, so following in their footsteps is just massive.”
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said complacency should not be part of the Blitzboks’ vocabulary come this weekend and the fourth tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, even though his charges won the previous three in the 2022 season.
“There is not much fear of that, no – I could see in the gym session this morning that they are ready to go and that they will bring some good energy to the field,” said Powell.
“We need to make sure we focus on the right things. We have another defence session before our first match and I am sure that will get us back to zero, which is where we want to start our first match at.
“Talking about defence, we only conceded four tries in five matches last week and that was great, but I don’t think our attack was as good as it could be. We did not keep possession as well as we could have done and we have looked at that aspect of our game.
“We are still hoping for the perfect game and hopefully we can play that in Seville.”
It will not be plain sailing, Powell admitted: “It is not an easy pool, especially as Spain will be playing at home. They won twice in Malaga, beating Scotland and Wales, which is proof of their quality.
“They are a bit like Argentina and tend to be difficult opponents to break down. We will have to be up for it, no doubt. They will try to take our space away.
“The USA have good senior players around and it always is a hard-fought match against them, so we will need to be up for that clash,” Powell warned.
Springbok Sevens pool schedule in Seville (SA times):
Saturday, 29 January
Springbok Sevens squad:
- Sako Makata – 12 tournaments, 50 matches, 35 points (7 tries)
- Ryan Oosthuizen – 26 tournaments, 128 matches, 130 points (26 tries)
- Impi Visser (captain) – 16 tournaments, 81 matches, 85 points (17 tries)
- Zain Davids – 27 tournaments, 137 matches, 125 points (25 tries)
- Christie Grobbelaar – six tournaments, 29 matches, 45 points (9 tries)
- JC Pretorius – 15 tournaments, 82 matches, 180 points (36 tries)
- Branco du Preez – 78 tournaments, 397 matches, 1401 points (99 tries, 450 conversions, 1 penalty goal, 1 drop goal)
- Selvyn Davids – 24 tournaments, 125 matches, 498 points (59 tries, 100 conversions, 1 penalty goal)
- Justin Geduld – 51 tournaments, 265 matches, 1051 points (114 tries, 239 conversions, 1 penalty goal)
- Dewald Human – 12 tournaments, 56 matches, 169 points (13 tries, 52 conversions)
- Shaun Williams – four tournaments, 20 matches, 46 points (8 tries, 3 conversions)
- Mfundo Ndhlovu – six tournaments, 28 matches, 35 points (7 tries)
- Darren Adonis – three tournaments, 17 matches, 37 points (7 tries, 1 conversion)