Experienced duo of Branco du Preez and Impi Visser return to Blitzboks squad ahead of Dubai tournaments
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Cape Town - Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has made four changes to the Blitzbok squad that won the shortened 2021 World Rugby Sevens Series for the two tournaments in Dubai.
The Blitzboks were crowned winners of the 2021 season - which consisted of only two tournaments in Canada, one in Edmonton and one in Vancouver - in September.
The new season will kick off in the Arabian desert next weekend.
The experienced duo of Branco du Preez and Impi Visser both return to the squad, while the group also features some fresh talent in the uncapped Shilton van Wyk (outside back) and Tiaan Pretorius (forward).
Five players who were part of the Series-winning squad in Canada were not available due to various injuries. Angelo Davids, Sako Makata, Darren Adonis, Dewald Human and James Murphy are all nursing injuries, while Justin Geduld, Lubabalo Dobela, Qamani Kota, Mfundo Ndhlovu and Latica Nela were not considered as they are still busy with injury rehabilitation after missing out on action in Canada.
Powell said he has picked his best available squad for the visit to the UAE and added that the Blitzboks will be looking to build on their success in Canada.
“Although we have a number of players unavailable due to injury, we will be looking to take some momentum from our success in Canada when we travel to Dubai, which is why there are only a handful of changes from the team that won in Canada,” said Powell.
“Branco and Impi are two experienced players, very capable of playing at this level and both were involved in the Olympic Games.
“We also have two new caps in Shilton and Tiaan, who have been part of our structures for a couple of years and come in as outside back and forward respectively. They now get an opportunity to show what they are capable of at this level.
“Shilton and Tiaan’s inclusion is also part of our long-term plan to build more squad depth, give players exposure and game time so they can build experience, and also to assist us in managing the squad at the start of what is going to be a very busy season.”
South Africa face Ireland, Japan and Great Britain on the first day in their pool matches.
The first tournament in Dubai will take place behind closed doors, followed by a second event on 3-4 December with fans in attendance at The Sevens Stadium.
Following the two events in Dubai, the World Series will move on to Europe as Spain plays host for the first time with combined men’s and women’s events in Malaga and Seville on 21-23 and 28-30 January 2022 respectively.
The Blitzboks are set to travel to Dubai on Sunday.
The Springbok Sevens squad for the two World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in Dubai:
1. Christie Grobbelaar 2. Ryan Oosthuizen 3. Impi Visser 4. Zain Davids 5. Tiaan Pretorius 6. JC Pretorius
7. Branco du Preez 8. Selvyn Davids 9. Shaun Williams 10. Ronald Brown 11. Siviwe Soyizwapi 12. Muller du Plessis 13. Shilton van Wyk