RUGBY NEWS - The accepted norm is for young players who need to be polished in some areas to be sent to the Sevens code to serve an apprenticeship, but listening to Blitzbok coach Neil Powell speaking at a press conference at Cape Town Stadium, the trend may now be being reversed.
Powell will have several players who now boast quite extensive recent conventional 15-man code experience in his squad when the Blitzboks go out to regain the Cape Town HSBC Sevens title that they surrendered to England in the final of last year’s event. Kwagga Smith, who played well for the Lions in last year’s Super Rugby and was outstanding for the Barbarians in their recent clash with the All Blacks at Twickenham is the headline act when it comes to fifteens players playing Sevens this week, but there are others.
Seabelo Senatla was part of the Western Province team that won the Currie Cup at the end of October and so were Werner Kok and Ruhan Nel. Chris Dry captained the Free State Cheetahs Currie Cup team when the first choice team was on duty in the Guinness PRO14, and Rosko Specman has impressed for the Cheetahs in Europe. Cecil Afrika has also played for the Cheetahs since the end of last year's Sevens series.
Like Senatla, Specman and Smith are good enough to possibly in time challenge for the 15-man Springbok team, something that Senatla says remains his main aim, and the combative, man-on-man nature of Sevens will serve all of them well for that challenge. However, it is what the 15-man game has done for those players that is exciting Powell right now.
“The 15-man game has definitely helped the players who have returned and it has turned out to be a good decision to let so many of them play 15s,” said Powell as he looked forward to this weekend’s home leg of the HSBC Sevens Series that his team won so convincingly in 2016/2017.
“Some of them have made improvements that have caused me to raise my eyebrows. They have come back as better players, with the 15-man game improving them in different areas. The experience of playing top level 15-man rugby has been good for them.”