The Springbok Sevens travel to Dubai on Sunday, eyeing another good start at one of their favourite hunting grounds where the new and bigger Sevens World Series begins.
South Africa are the defending Dubai champions, a venue where they have managed to reach the previous two Cup Finals. This coming Friday they face Samoa, Russia and then Scotland in a tricky Pool B fixtures list.
Last December, the Springbok Sevens followed up their excellent win in Dubai with another title triumph at their home tournament in Port Elizabeth, and the South Africans will be eager for a similar start to the season.
Head coach Neil Powell reckons teams will change their usual approach over the next few months.
“This is such an important season and I am sure we will see some different strategies from the teams," he said.
“The importance of the season will bring added pressure, and we will also have to adopt to the way teams change their tactics. However, it is important for us to concentrate on our job and not to look too far ahead.”
Powell expects momentum to be a key factor, especially in the first two tournaments: “Every team will try and gain early momentum in Dubai, so that they have something to build when we all arrive in Cape Town. We prepared well and are looking forward to the season.”
The coach has named Springboks Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh in a strong 12-man squad for the first two World Series outings.
Hougaard has played in 35 Tests for the Springboks and recently joined the Sevens squad on a one-year contract. He is set to make his World Series debut in Dubai, while Western Province centre and skipper, De Jongh (14 Tests), return to the Springbok Sevens fold for the first time since making his first and only appearance for the side in Wellington in 2008.