Scotland Sevens head coach John Dalziel has hailed the defensive leadership that captain Scott Riddell and Nyle Godsmark bring to the side as they prepare to get their World Cup bid under way in San Francisco in the early hours of tomorrow UK time.
In the straight knockout event being played at the iconic AT&T Park in California, Kenya will play Tonga at 9.01pm UK time this evening with the victors progressing to take on Scotland at 3.03am UK time in the last 16.
Kenya will be favourites to beat Tonga and Scotland know all about the African side having played them four times on the World Series circuit during 2017-18, the last of those being in Paris last month.
That match in the French capital ended in a 21-20 defeat for Dalziel’s men and, given that Kenya finished eighth on the circuit and Scotland 12th, the east Africans will start as favourites if they meet this weekend.
Scotland had a good practice match against England on Tuesday and the head coach believes Riddell and Melrose man Godsmark will be key to his side’s hopes over the coming days.
“Sevens is a lot about attacking, but you have to have good defensive shape and if you can disrupt the opposition then it really helps,” Dalziel said from the team hotel. “In that regard Scott’s experience is so crucial to us, he is invaluable really.
“As an older player he has been brilliant in helping Nyle through and I think a lot of the gains he has made this year have been down to Scott.
“They have spent a lot of time together and Scott is such a good tackler that it is rubbing off on Nyle and he is also beginning to steal a lot of ball too.
“If you can get turnover ball in sevens it really is so key and whether we play Kenya or Tonga we know that we will have to be at our very best defensively.”
It remains to be see whether Scotland wear their new luminous green alternate kit – launched yesterday – for the last 16 tie, but whatever they wear they will need to be on the money from the first minute.
“Whoever we play will obviously have a tie in their legs before they come up against us so it is crucial that in our preparation and our warm-up is bang on ahead of it,” Dalziel added.
“There are no bumps and bruises and everyone has trained well since we got here so it is now down to myself to pick the starting seven that best suits the first game and then we can take things from there.”