The full Springbok Sevens squad assembled in Stellenbosch on Monday, boosted by the arrival of Western Province loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
The 24-year-old Notshe is on loan from WP and will be available for selection for the first four tournaments of the new 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series, before returning to the Stormers in mid-February for Super Rugby.
Notshe was part of the wider Springbok squad for the Incoming Series in 2016 and also represented SA A against the England Saxons last year.
Along with current Springbok Sevens players Ruhan Nel, Werner Kok and Seabelo Senatla, he was part of the Western Province team that won the Currie Cup final in Durban two weeks ago.
The skilful loose forward said he was excited and motivated to potentially add value to the Blitzboks.
“It is pretty exciting to be able to join the World Series champions,” said Notshe.
“I am keen to learn from them as they are a pretty experienced group. The guys were pretty excited to get back together again and so am I – it is almost like the first day back at school for me. For me, it will be all about learning from the old heads here.”
Kwagga Smith is also back with the squad after his Man-of-the-Match performance for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in London on Saturday, along with Blue Bulls players Tim Agaba and Stedman Gans.
Agaba was part of the Blue Bulls’ Currie Cup side, while Gans played for the Bulls Under-21s and was also in action in Durban, where they lost to Western Province U21s in the SA Rugby Provincial final.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said it was great to have the full squad together again. “The start of the World Sevens Series is upon us, and we need to get all our preparations done to be ready for the opening tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town.
“It is great to have Sikhumbuzo with us. He realises that a place in the squad is not guaranteed, but I am pleased to have a player of his abilities added to our squad.
“We are continually looking at extending our depth and player base, and he certainly has the athletic abilities to play for the Blitzboks. He will need to show that he deserves a spot in the squad, but the same applies for all the other guys,” Powell said.
Powell also confirmed that Dylan Sage will not be available for the tournaments in Dubai or Cape Town because of a back injury.
“The injury will keep him out of the first two tournaments for sure. It is a pity, but we will have him back in full fitness next year, so we wish Dylan a speedy and proper recovery.”
* The Springbok Sevens squad will have a signing session at N1 City Mall in Goodwood on Saturday from 12pm-2pm at the Food Court.