CAPE TOWN – Branco du Preez will become the most-capped Springbok Sevens player of all time at the London Sevens next weekend when he runs out for his 70th tournament for the Blitzboks in the penultimate tournament of the World Rugby Sevens Series at Twickenham.
Du Preez currently shares the mark of 69 tournaments with Kyle Brown, but he will become the sole record holder in London after being named in the squad by Blitzbok coach Neil Powell.
The Paris Sevens will complete the 2018/19 season a week later.
The Springbok Sevens coach recalled two previously injured players, JC Pretorius and Muller du Plessis, to the squad, which will again be lead by Siviwe Soyizwapi, in the only changes to the side that won the Singapore Sevens in April.
Du Plessis and Pretorius last played at the Canada Sevens in Vancouver, where the latter was named in the tournament Dream Team.
Pretorius takes over from Chris Dry and Du Plessis from Angelo Davids, who has been included in the Junior Springbok squad. Regular captain Philip Snyman will travel to London and Paris as the 13th player.
Powell said naming the final squad was a difficult task.
“We had a full squad to select from for a change, with a whole lot of players coming back from injury and available for selection. The fact that the squad won in Singapore was also a factor, as we wanted to reward those players as well,” Powell explained.
“One of our objectives for the year was to expand our depth with younger players, many of whom have now forced their way into the team.
“It is an exciting squad and with qualification to the 2020 Olympic Games a strong possibility, there is a real motivation to finish the season well.”
Powell congratulated Du Preez on his achievement: “Branco will be the first to tell you that it is not about accolades, but about contributing to the team, so it is pleasing that he can claim a personal milestone such as this one.
“He is one of the best examples of what this team stands for, and this is just rewarding for a very humble person.”
Last couple of sessions before final @WorldRugby7s departure for London and Paris. Team been named and all keen to go and finish strong. @CastleFreeSA @FNBSA @ASICS_ZA #WePlayForYou pic.twitter.com/n1SnMy3e7g— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) May 14, 2019
The Blitzboks will face Japan, Canada and Argentina in Pool A at Twickenham on Saturday 25 May.
South Africa (121 points) currently occupy fourth on the World Series log, behind USA (145), Fiji (142) and New Zealand (130), with England (109) in the fifth position.
The top four teams automatically qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Japan.
Ryan Oosthuizen, Sako Makata, Impi Visser, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Werner Kok, JC Pretorius, Branco du Preez, Selvyn Davids, Justin Geduld, Stedman Gans, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Muller du Plessis, Philip Snyman (captain).
African News Agency (ANA)