The Blitzboks, who started the 2018/19 series as back-to-back series champions, had a quiet start, finishing sixth in Dubai and third in Cape Town in December, but they showed good improvement in the process, something Powell feels will have to continue at the FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton in the third of ten tournaments in the World Series.
“This tournament is traditionally a very tough one,” said Powell.
“For us, there is travel and time zones to overcome, but generally teams are all pretty competitive. It is still early in the season and everyone is fit, mentally strong and keen and had some time together as a squad.
“All the teams also enough time for players to recover from injuries picked up in Dubai and Cape Town, so altogether this is a high hurdle to overcome. The likes of Fiji and Samoa also see this as their home tournament, so is really competitive.”
The Blitzboks have done well in in New Zealand in the past though and Powell feels that if they continue with their upward curve, it should not change. South Africa face Kenya, France and Scotland in Pool C on the first day, all of whom will be respected by the Blitzboks.
“We had a good two and a half weeks back home and this week went well,” said Powell.
“I was particularly pleased with our defence session on Thursday. We do have some new combinations that will take time to develop, but overall we are progressing nicely.
“I have asked the guys to leave nothing out there in every match. We are not looking at our opponents, but at our own effort. If the players give all they have in those 14 minutes and can walk off the field happy with their effort, I will be content.”
The pools for the HSBC New Zealand Sevens are:
A - Fiji, Australia, Argentina, Wales
B - USA, England, Samoa, Tonga
C - South Africa, Scotland, France, Kenya
D - New Zealand, Spain, Canada, Japan