Blitzbokke opt for experience

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iol spt jan15 Blitzbokke

Johannesburg – Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell named an experienced team to defend their Sevens World Series tournament title at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas next weekend.

Injury permitting, the same team will also travel to New Zealand a week later for the Wellington Sevens tournament.

Powell included 10 players from his contracted group and handed a national debut to Pumas flyer Rosko Specman.

The coach also included a fit-again Seabelo Senatla, who would make a first appearance in the 2013/14 Sevens World Series.

Bulls winger Sampie Mastriet, who played in all three IRB tournaments thus far this season, has again been included in the squad. Stephan Dippenaar is also back, having returned to full fitness after missing the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in December.

Powell made three changes from the squad that won the Port Elizabeth event, with Specman, Dippenaar, and Senatla replacing Cheslin Kolbe, Kwagga Smith, and Steven Hunt.

“It wasn't an easy decision to finalise the squad as everyone really worked hard to make the final cut,” Powell said.

“Players such as Steven, Kwagga, and Jamba Ulengo can count themselves unlucky not to be in the team, while Paul Delport has also just returned to full fitness after a serious knee injury.

“Rosko was with the team in Port Elizabeth and just missed out on selection there, but he kept working hard and deserves his opportunity.

“He excelled for the Saru Sevens Academy team and was named Player of the Tournament at the Punta del Este 7s earlier this month, so I am confident that he can contribute significantly in our efforts to retain our title in Las Vegas.”

South Africa will be looking at a third title in the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, but will first have to overcome Kenya, Wales, and Canada in Pool A.

The Springbok Sevens team are currently second on the Sevens World Series log with 56 points, two behind New Zealand (58).

Springbok Sevens team: Kyle Brown (captain), Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Rosko Specman, Werner Kok, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Sampie Mastriet, Seabelo Senatla. – Sapa


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