Johannesburg – Injuries to several key players have forced Springbok Sevens' rugby coach Paul Treu to make three changes to his squad for the forthcoming Sevens World Series tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.
The Wellington Sevens tournament starts on February 1 in the New Zealand capital and will be followed by the Las Vegas event a week later.
Treu said his youthful squad was looking forward to the Wellington Sevens challenge.
“The New Zealand tournament is most probably the toughest test of the entire World Series,” he said.
“The host country, along with Fiji and Samoa, always get massive support from the crowd, which makes it extremely difficult for the other teams.”
Regular captain, Kyle Brown (ankle), playmaker Cecil Afrika (knee), Branco du Preez (hamstring), Steven Hunt (ankle) and Ruwellyn Isbell (soft tissue neck injury) are all unavailable because of injury.
These vacancies have opened the door to, among others, the two 19-year old debutants in Justin Geduld and Seabelo Senatla. The promising pair, who are also currently part of the SA Under-20
training squad, both recently signed two-year contracts with the SA Rugby Union (Saru) to play for the Springbok Sevens.
Pieter Engelbrecht was preferred to Bernado Botha, who was part of the squad in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens.
“We will have three 19-year olds – Geduld, Senatla and Cheslin Kolbe – in our travelling squad, so from that perspective it is very exciting and I am delighted for the youngsters,” said Treu.
“However, they could not have asked for a more daunting challenge, and it will be up to them to prove themselves against strong opposition.”
The Blitzbokke are the top seeds in Pool C and will compete against Wales, Samoa and Canada for one of two qualifying spots on offer for the Cup quarterfinals.
The squad leaves for New Zealand on Friday.
Sevens squad: Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne (captain), Warren Whiteley, Cornal Hendricks, Pieter Engelbrecht, Justin Geduld, Stephan Dippenaar, Paul Delport, Cheslin Kolbe, Tshotsho Mbovane, Seabelo Senatla. – Sapa