Blitzbokke get Afrika boost

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iol spt mar24 Cecil Afrika

Johannesburg – Cecil Afrika will join the Springbok Sevens rugby squad in Hong Kong after the former IRB Sevens Player of the Year passed a fitness test over the weekend.

Afrika, who has now recovered from a hamstring niggle, replaces Steven Hunt.

Afrika's return will further strengthen the Blitzboks in the crucial positions of flyhalf and sweeper as they go in search of a victory at the Hong Kong Sevens for the first time.

On Sunday, Fiji scored a try in the dying seconds of the Tokyo Sevens Cup final to snatch the tournament title away from the Springbok Sevens.

Thanks to their impressive form and consistent performances, the South Africans managed to regain the overall lead in the Sevens world series standings.

With just three more rounds to go, including this weekend's showdown in Hong Kong, the Blitzboks (116 points) lead New Zealand by just two points, with Tokyo winners Fiji trailing in third place.

South Africa have now reached a remarkable five World Series Cup finals so far this season and their two Cup titles in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas mean they have won the same number of tournaments as rivals New Zealand and Fiji in the 2013/2014 season.

Kyle Brown and his Blitzboks squad finished fourth at the season-opening Gold Coast Sevens in Australia.

Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, said Afrika's return was fantastic news.

“It's great to have Cecil back because he was in very good form before his injury. It is unfortunate that Steven Hunt has to make way, but Cecil is a very important player for us. He will assist Branco (du Preez) and Justin (Geduld) in the key positions of playmaker and sweeper,” he said.

Powell said his team came through unscathed despite a bruising Cup final against the very physical Fijians in Tokyo. “I'm relieved that apart from a few bruises and small niggles, the guys all came through with no injury worries.”

Meanwhile, the Springbok Sevens were drawn with Australia, France and Spain in pool B of the Hong Kong Sevens. They will face France on Friday night, followed by Spain and Australia on Saturday.

The Springbok Sevens squad for Hong Kong: Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Jamba Ulengo, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla. – Sapa


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