SA look to build on Dubai success

Dubai champions South Africa have set their sights on a first home triumph when the International Rugby Board’s Sevens Series is staged in George this weekend.

Hosts South Africa have never won on home soil, but their victory against England in Dubai a week ago has given Paul Treu’s men an extra spring to their step.

“It’s always special playing in front of your own supporters and George is a special place for us,” said Treu.

“We owe our fans a victory and they can be assured we will be doing everything in our power to give them the win they’ve been waiting for. There is a burning desire in this team to finally win at home, more so now following our victory in Dubai last weekend.”

Treu will, however, have to do without one of his most experienced campaigners on Friday and Saturday after forward Marius Schoeman injured his wrist in Dubai.

Treu has turned to the young and inexperienced Ian Aadendorff and Mlindazwe Nqoro as back-up.

But while the team he will field throughout the two days is far less experienced than was the case last season—he has also lost Fabian Juries—he will still have the likes of captain Mzwandile Stick to call on for inspiration.

Stick was in fabulous form in Dubai, with his outstanding drop-kicking a stand-out feature.

“There’s a lot of confidence in the players and they not only believe in themselves, but those men around them too,” said Treu.

Stick was instrumental in ensuring South Africa progressed to the Cup final last weekend, when his last-gasp conversion against Fiji in the semifinal forced the match into extra-time, before landing a monster drop-goal to see his team through.

The Boks then beat England 12-7 in the final to capture their third Dubai title.

But if South Africa are to go all the way here, they had better beware of a wounded New Zealand.

The Kiwis came up short against England in the semifinals a week ago and will be keen to make up for that slip-up by defending their George title.

The men from New Zealand dominated the Sevens circuit last year and have especially done well in George.

They, together with England and the likes of Fiji and even Samoa, will be out to ensure this will be no fairy-tale start to the new season for Treu and his charges.

The action at the picturesque Outeniqua Park gets under way on Friday with the 16 teams divided into four pools of four teams.

The play-off games will take place on Saturday.—Sapa-AFP

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