Blitzbokke forced to make changes

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iol spt jan30 Rosco_Speckman Gallo Images The injured Springbok Sevens duo of Seabelo Senatla and Rosko Specman, pictured, will return home, the SA Rugby Union said. Picture: Ashley Vlotman

Johannesburg – The injured Springbok Sevens duo of Seabelo Senatla and Rosko Specman will return home, the SA Rugby Union (Saru) said on Thursday.

They would be replaced by Jamba Ulengo and Kwagga Smith for the Wellington Sevens on February 7 to 8, Saru said.

The two wings sustained ankle injuries during last weekend's Las Vegas Sevens, where the Bok Sevens team won the tournament title for a second successive year.

Smith and Ulengo will join the squad on Saturday.

Justin Geduld (knee) and Sampie Mastriet (ankle) also suffered minor injuries in Las Vegas but they should be ready for selection for next weekend's action in the New Zealand capital, Saru said in a statement.

Senatla, despite not playing in the Cup final against New Zealand, was the top try scorer in Las Vegas with six tries in his first World Series outing of the season.

He had missed the previous three rounds because of a lower back injury.

Specman, who made his full Springbok Sevens debut in the US will arrive back in South Africa with Senatla on Saturday.

Speaking from Las Vegas where the team spent some extra days before flying to New Zealand, Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said the team was looking forward to maintaining its good form and consistency.

Powell said he was fortunate to be able to call on two good replacements thanks to the overall strength of the Springbok Sevens' wider training group.

“Jamba was perhaps unlucky to lose out on selection for Las Vegas after a good tournament in PE, while Kwagga has a very good work rate and should be able to slot in easily among the other more experienced forwards,” he said.

The Springbok Sevens coach said he would move Werner Kok out to wing, while adding Junior Springbok flanker Smith to the forwards.

Kok has impressed since making his Bok Sevens debut four tournaments ago and it was his powerful run and try that clinched the title against New Zealand in Las Vegas.

“Our main goal this year is to establish a good level of consistency by reaching the Cup semi-final of each tournament,” Powell said.

“The players have responded well so far to the challenge and I am very pleased that we are currently on track.”

South Africa finished fourth at the Gold Coast, second in Dubai and they were crowned champions in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas, lifting them to the top of the World Series standings.

The Bok Sevens will face Wales, Portugal and England in their pool-A matches in Wellington next Friday.

Springbok Sevens squad: Kyle Brown (captain), Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Sampie Mastriet, Jamba Ulengo. – Sapa


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