NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – Having been at the tournament that propelled him to the greater heights of rugby sevens, South Africa’s top fly-half Cecil Afrika is eager to roll back the memories when he leads the experienced Blitzbokke side at this weekend’s Safari Sevens to be hosted at RFUEA Ground.
The squad of 14 blended of young and experience that has also the captain Siviwe Shakes Soyizwapi arrived in Kenya on Friday morning with full of positive expectations to give experience to the new players as well as gaining their fitness ahead of the 2019/20 World Sevens Series.
South Africa split their team into two with one that is led by head coach Neil Powell set to travel to Manchester on Monday for a pre-season tournament while the second compete at the Safari Sevens.
“We are planning for the future, so we have two split squads one team that is leaving for Manchester on Monday and us came to Kenya. Because it’s an Olympic year we have to plan wisely, we don’t want all the players to play in all rounds,” assistant coach Renfred Dazel told Capital Sport.
Renfred added that; “It’s the first time in a long time that we are having two tournaments before the Dubai Sevens, that is good preparations for us and a platform for the new guys to give them a chance to prove themselves before the season starts.”
For Cecil Africa, he makes a return to Kenya after 12 years where he turned out for the Emerging Boks in 2007 and he reckoned that Safari Sevens is a top-class rugby sevens tournament and called on his charges not to underrate any team.
“I’ve been here (in Kenya) twice in 2006 and 2007 representing the South Africa Emerging Boks, so coming back to where it started it’s a pretty thing for me. We had a mixed season that ended because we lost a lot of senior players,” Africa, who ha faced Kenya’s Shujaa in a couple of times told Capital Sport.
“We are giving new players a chance to get experience and get the exposer because it’s an Olympic year so that by the time we have retired they can carry on. We are focused and will embrace teamwork, do what we have worked on training and take a team at a time,” he revealed.
“The tournament will help us find our mistakes to work on before we start the Sevens Series. It will be a tough tournament and we are looking forward to winning the tournament.”
The Blitzbokke are in a tricky Pool A where they will take on Kenya’s second-string side the Morans, Uganda and Burundi.
Unlike Cecil Afrika, who has been in the tournament twice, Captain Siviwe Shakes Soyizwapi will not only be making a debut in Kenya but will be the first time ever he is visiting an African country.
“It’s my first time to be in Africa and in Kenya, it will be a good opportunity for us especially before the World Series starts to prepare and gauge the fitness of players individually to see how we much we will have grown from the pre-season, it’s a good tournament with great competition,” Soyizwapi stated.
“We expect a physical game, every time we play Kenya is never a rival but a battle, so we are looking forward to that especially in the area they like focusing on…the break down which is a massive area. The group is really competitive, and we will look at implementing rugby practice and see where we are,” the skipper underscored.
The South African team is based at the dusitD2 Hotel and was hosted to a breakfast treat by General Manager Michael Metaxas.
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