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WATCH: Impi Visser wants Blitzboks to soak in electric atmosphere at Cape Town Sevens

Cape Town – At 27, Impi Visser is one of the more experienced members of the Blitzbok squad that will compete in this weekend’s Cape Town Sevens.

South Africa are missing a number of stars through injury, such as Selvyn Davids, Dewald Human and Ronald Brown, and are also still finding their feet under new coach Sandile Ngcobo.

But after a tough opening World Series tournament in Hong Kong last month, the Blitzboks bounced back to clinch the Dubai Sevens title last weekend.

It’s always difficult to negotiate the pressure of the home crowd, though, with the South Africans having last won the title at Cape Town Stadium in December 2015.

Visser – who hails from Pongola in KwaZulu-Natal and has a degree in engineering from Stellenbosch University – was part of the last Cape event in December 2019, where he replaced the injured Kurt-Lee Arendse on the final day and played in the decider against New Zealand.

The Blitzboks went down 7-5, so the former junior Bulls centre has a real idea of the demands of pleasing an expectant home crowd.

“You need to realise that it’s a big occasion, and you need to soak it all in, especially when you run out in that first game. It’s quite electric and it’s loud, and you need to realise how big this stage is,” Visser said this week.

“The most important thing, firstly, is to enjoy it. It’s a big opportunity for everyone, and for the guys who haven’t played here before, they will quickly realise what the atmosphere is like. The crowd is just on another level, if you haven’t experienced it before.

“So, the message to the guys is that, when you run out for that first game, you must take it all in – because if you look again, the weekend will be finished.

“But also at the same time, to listen to the right voices, to just stay calm, because the crowd can play a role to charge you up. That sometimes results in you making decisions that you wouldn’t normally make, which would be out of character.

“But then, I think you need to take a breath, just come in as a team and come together, and you just say ‘But boys, we should just actually take this as one of our training sessions, because we try and simulate the same kind of pressure situations in our training sessions’.

“So, we try to get it as close as possible to the game-related stuff, and there are a lot of experienced guys on the field who will keep the guys calm, who have been in this situation.”

The Blitzboks have been drawn in Pool A alongside Canada, Fiji and France, with the Cup quarter-finals on Saturday night and the rest of the players on Sunday.

They open their tournament against Canada on Friday night (8.03pm), but the big one in the group stage will be perennial contenders Fiji on Saturday (11.19am).

Such is the focus of the Blitzboks, though, that Visser did not want to say much about the South Sea Islanders. “Our first focus is Canada – that’s our most important game.”