CAPE TOWN, February – Springbok Sevens veteran Branco du Preez will join the team in New Zealand after injury struck yet again, ruling out potential debutant Muller du Plessis from the forthcoming tournament in Hamilton.
Du Preez was called up to replace Du Plessis, who injured his hamstring during the team's training session on Thursday.
The Blitzbok veteran, who has played in 57 tournaments for his country and scored 1100 points, will fly out of South Africa on Thursday and will be included in the line-up for this weekend's HSBC NZ Sevens, the fourth tournament in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Du Preez was originally ruled out of the Australasian trip due to a hamstring injury, but has now fully recovered.
Du Plessis only joined the squad on Tuesday evening as a replacement for Ruhan Nel, but a hamstring strain picked up during the defence session ruled him out as well. The squad also lost captain Philip Snyman in Sydney due to a hamstring injury, with Kyle Brown taking over the captaincy this week.
Meanwhile, Kwagga Smith had some discomfort after rolling his ankle in training earlier in the week and a final call on his participation will be made on Friday.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said a lot of work has gone into this weekend's tournament, although not all of it on the field: “As the guys were sore and stiff early in the week, we managed to get through a lot of discussion and analysis on what happened in Sydney and how we want to play in Hamilton.
“I am happy with the work done and the field sessions were also productive. Unfortunately, we lost Muller now, so he will not be part of the squad. He will, however, stay with us to get a good look at the way we operate during tournaments and how we prepare. It will be a good experience for him, although he will not be able to play.”
Powell stated the importance of a good performance this weekend: “The senior players will have to make another step-up, given the misfortunes we had this week. We are happy with our log position (leading the series) as this is some indication that we are doing some things right, but we always strive for improvement, so this weekend will be another opportunity to do so.”
The revised Blitzboks squad is:
Tim Agaba, Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Stedman Gans, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Werner Kok, Kwagga Smith.
SA Schedule on Saturday (SA times):
01h06: v Papua New Guinea
04h32: v Russia
08h06: v England
African News Agency (ANA)