CAPE TOWN – Cecil Afrika and Mfundo Ndhlovu have been called up to join the Springbok Sevens team for the Paris Sevens as injury replacements for Kurt-Lee Arendse and Stedman Gans.
The season’s 10th and final tournament in the World Series takes place at the Stade Jean-Bouin on Saturday and Sunday.
Arendse (concussion) and Gans (hand) picked up their injuries at the London Sevens, and were ruled out of the final leg of the season.
The last of Ndlovu’s three tournaments for the Blitzboks was in Las Vegas in March, where he picked up a wrist injury. He was replaced by Arendse for the Vancouver leg, and has scored three tries in 14 matches.
Afrika injured his hamstring a year ago in London, and this will be his first appearance in the 2018/19 World Series following a long rehabilitation period.
The former World Player of the Year is the Blitzboks’ leading points’ scorer of all time, with 1 430 points in 61 tournaments and 318 matches.
The injuries to Gans and Arendse left coach Neil Powell without his two centres in the team, but he is pleased that Afrika and Ndhlovu can take over.
“Yes, both our injured players play in the same position, with Stedman covering for us at flyhalf as well, so it was a bit of a problem,” Powell said.
Injury Update Blitzboks! @AfrikaCecil and #MfundoNdhlovu will join squad for @Paris7s as #KurtLeeArendse and @stedmangans are ruled out with injury. Safe travels all! @CastleFreeSA @FNBSA @ASICS_ZA #WePlayforYou #BestOfUs pic.twitter.com/9BSC3miW4U— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) May 27, 2019
“I am happy to be able to bring someone with Cecil’s experience into the team, while Mfundo has shown in the past that he can play at this level.
“This is also a great opportunity for him to gain more experience. He was probably a bit unlucky to miss out in selection in the first place.”
Powell was also pleased to see Afrika back in the mix: “I am very happy for Cecil, who came back from a long-term injury, and I’m pleased that we can give him an opportunity before the season ends.”
Thank you for the colourful and warm welcome @Paris7s The defending Paris champions arrived in the French capital Monday afternoon for the final leg of the @WorldRugby7s @CastleFreeSA @FNBSA @ASICS_ZA @ASICSRugby pic.twitter.com/MsrnjvpZv4— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) May 27, 2019
With fourth position on the log secured and Olympic qualification out of the way, Powell is planning some experiments with his playing squad this weekend.
“We still want to do well and end the season on a high, but to qualify with one tournament to go has given us a bit of leeway,” said Powell.
South Africa will face Australia, Wales and Kenya in Pool B of the Paris Sevens on Saturday.
African News Agency (ANA)