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Adaptability remains key for Blitzboks – Powell

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said the one of their squad's campaign mottos – adaptability – has kicked in much earlier than anticipated and that the team are in good spirits after being put into isolation upon arrival in Tokyo.

The Blitzboks arrived in Japan on Tuesday, only to be informed of a positive COVID case on the same flight and according to Olympic Games protocols, they were put into quarantine for being a potential close contact (SASCOC release here).

None of the South African players or management have tested positive upon arrival, but their departure to Kagoshima City has been delayed and the training camp in the southern city will have to be shortened.

“We are in a good space, despite the upheavals we encountered once we arrived,” said Powell.

“We have made a commitment to each other when we started this campaign that we will be mentally strong as well and that was tested with this episode. Adaptability – both mental and physical – will be key at this Olympics and we already felt that when we arrived.

“We took a knock, but I can say the players took in their stride. We can only control the controllable, so we remain positive. We will still have a training session while we wait for clearance, the only difference is it will be via Zoom call with the players in their rooms.”

Powell applauded the efforts of Team South Africa officials and the local South African embassy, who all rushed to assist: “It was heartening to see everyone came to help when we needed help, it just again proved to me what we can achieve when all of us work together.”

World Rugby said: “We are in contact with Tokyo 2020, the relevant Japanese authorities and the South African National Olympic Committee and are working to provide support and assistance to the South African rugby sevens delegation, all of whom tested negative on arrival.”

The team will be tested again on Thursday, after which a decision on their travel plans will be made.

Issued by SA Rugby


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