Bok Sevens prepare for life without Cecil
So far in this 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World, Series South Africa have scored 42 tries and 17 of them have gone to one man, Cecil Afrika, the leading try scorer so far in the Series.
Of the 12 matches played by the Springbok Seven this season, 10 of them have produced at least one try for Afrika, who took no part in one of the other two, the Plate final on home soil in George.
Indeed, Afrika's rapid emergence as one of the game's most electric playmakers and marksmen has been remarkable by any standard and his influence on Paul Treu's side is immense.
So how does the coach feel about making the short trip from the team hotel in downtown Wellington to the famous Westpac Stadium on Friday without him?
"It's going to be very difficult," admitted Treu, who must wait patiently while his star man recovers from a jaw injury sustained in George. "If you look at our highlights and clips he's been phenomenal in our attacking plays and it going to be difficult to replace him.
"That's why it's important that players like Paul Delport, Branco du Preez and Renfred Dazel come back into the side and step into that role because it's going to be important for the other players that they keep on setting up the plays and hopefully keep attacking the space."
Treu: "5 out of 10"
After the first two events in Dubai and South Africa, Treu's side lies fifth in the World Series standings with 24 points, and so far the coach gives them a mark of five out of 10.
Twice winners in the second-tier plate competition, he knows they have played well at times but have twice failed to take their chances in the crucial Cup quarter finals.
"We were so close, 19-7 up against Fiji in Dubai and 10-5 up at half time against England in George, but both times we gave it away and I think that the players do now realise that we have the potential to put teams away and to start winning tournaments," added Treu, who faces a duel with defending Wellington champions Fiji as early as day one here.
"It's always difficult with Fiji, you never know what they're going to bring to the party, we haven't managed to beat them for quite a while. We just have to take it one game at a time, concentrate on the one-percenters and start well.
"We haven't had any game practice up until now so we don't know what to expect, or how the other teams will improve, we just have to go out and hopefully qualify for the quarter finals."
Out of school, into the fire
One player who perhaps embodies more than any other Treu's long term, Olympic vision for the Sevens side is Paul Jordaan. Straight out of school, the youngster is set to make his debut just weeks after his 19th birthday in one of the most cauldronlike atmospheres that Sevens has to offer.
"We have to keep reminding him that it's just another tournament. Imagine - he just finished school a month ago and as an 18 or 19 year old is going to play in one of the best touraments in the world, he's going to go to Vegas at that age. An incredible opportunity for any player, so it is going to be difficult, there is going to be pressure and I think he'd just like to get out on the field with his hands on the ball."
As well as the defending NZI Sevens champions Fiji, South Africa will also line up for pool matches against France and Canada.