Blitzboks eyeing World Rugby Sevens top 4

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The 2019 World Rugby Sevens series carries special significance with the top 4 teams qualifying automatically for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

With just 33 points separating the top five teams, it is all to play for in the remaining four rounds of the series, starting in Hong Kong this weekend.

Heading into the weekend, the USA are at the top of the standings, followed by 2018 World Cup winners, New Zealand, and Olympic champions Fiji who are seeking their fifth successive title in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Chris Dry was promoted to the 12-man squad for the tournament after Zane Davids was ruled out due to a shoulder injury.

Hong Kong is regarded as the Jewel in the Crown on the World Sevens Rugby Circuit and the BlitzBoks are eyeing a first ever title in the Far East.

Neil Powell and his men say they are concentrating on the basics and will welcome any eventuality, especially following a slow start to their season; but there are plenty of other milestones on the cards.

Speedster Branco du Preez stands on the cusp of history. If he runs on to the field on Friday, he will join Frankie Horne in second place in the all-time World Series appearances for the Blitzboks.

“Equalising the tank will be a special moment for me, but for now it is in the back of my mind. I just want to come out and hit the ground running and do my best for the team. It does not matter whether I start or come off the bench; your role in the team stays the same. And for me if I come off the bench I will make sure that I use every opportunity that I get and just give my all out on the field.”

Once again there’s an encouraging blend of the Old & the New in the BlitzBoks setup, Sako Makata, who is yet to score a try for the team is looking for his first run on in Hong Kong. He was due to play in the Far East city last year as part of a youthful Blitzboks squad, but injury ruled him out of contention.

Makata says that he has been through training and is familiar with the system.

“I have done the training; I am more familiar with the system so I am glad it happened this year instead of last year as I am in a better space physically and mentally than I was last year. It would have been good to be with those guys last year, but I feel that this is a much better platform and a wealth of skill and experience and I feel I will learn better this year than I did last year.”

The pool draw sees South Africa, who were crowned Vancouver Sevens Champions in Canada last month, face Las Vegas runners-up Samoa, Scotland and Japan in Pool A.