The wait is over for Port Elizabeth as it hosts its second international sevens tournament this weekend.
The South African team will be aiming to banish the memory of last year when they lost to defending champions New Zealand in the final.
The Blitzbokke, who have been hampered by injuries and inconsistent results this year, will be led by veteran Frankie Horne, stepping in for Kyle Brown, who sustained an ankle injury last weekend in Dubai.
Horne will be appearing in his 44th sevens tournament – equalling Fabian Juries’s record – and knows that after the team’s disappointing show last week, when they lost to Argentina in the Bowl final, the pressure will be on for them to perform.
“I’m proud to lead the team but never wanted to do it in such a manner,” Horne told SuperSport’s website
“I’ve got big shoes to fill. In my time with the team I’ve seen just about everything – including Bowl finals.”
Besides losing the services of their influential skipper, the team will be without Branco du Preez, who was sixth on last season’s top-10 individual points table, as well as flyhalf Steven Hunt.
The Boks are in a tough Pool A, facing Dubai winners Samoa (1.15pm start), France (4.40pm) and Australia (7.36pm), but will be relying on home support as well as playmaker Cecil Afrika – who returns to the starting line-up – to go all the way and nab the trophy on home soil. They last won as hosts in 2008 in George.
The other pools:
B: New Zealand, Fiji, Scotland, England.
C: Kenya, Wales, Argentina, Spain.
D: Portugal, Canada, USA, Zimbabwe. - Independent on Saturday