The Blitzbok squad pose for pictures at their base in Stellenbosch on Friday. Photo: Wynona Louw

STELLENBOSCH – Western Province and Stormers fans won’t see Sikhumbuzo Notshe at the Dubai event they would have liked next weekend.

But they will, however, get to see the exciting loose forward make his sevens debut with the SA Academy team in an invitational event in Dubai.

Notshe is on loan from WP for the first four tournaments of the World Sevens Series, and although Blitzboks coach Neil Powell has praised the loose forward for the way he’s adjusted to the Sevens set-up, he has opted for experience in the opening leg of the campaign in the desert city.

The South Africans will start their title defence after a stunning, trophy-winning 2016-2017 season.

The Springbok Sevens team is packed with experience, boasting the highest average tournaments per player ever for SA at 37.

Some of the familiar faces that the Blitzboks welcomed back include Kyle Brown (returning from a knee injury), Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla (Super Rugby duty) and Justin Geduld (recovered from a foot injury).

Forward Tim Agaba is the only player in the team who did not feature in Dubai last year.

Ahead of the tournament that will be played at the Sevens Stadium on December 1 and 2, Powell said that a crucial factor to achieving success will be maintaining the standards they’ve set as a team.

“We are fortunate to be in this situation,” said Powell.

“There was a concerted effort to broaden our player base last season as we knew we would lose Seabelo and Kwagga after four tournaments, but then we lost Kyle and Justin to injury as well, and that certainly tested us.

“Despite blooding a handful of new guys last year, we still have the benefit of a really solid squad. We were blessed with a lack of injuries, especially as a number of the players had a stint in 15s as well.

“We know we can win tournaments if we believe in our systems and structures,” said Powell.

“The reality is that we will have a target on our backs this year, being the defending champions not only in the series, but also in Dubai. We need to keep on believing that we can maintain the standards we have set as a team.”

Springbok Sevens Squad

Chris Dry, Philip Snyman (captain), Tim Agaba, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Marco Labuschagne (Replacement Player).

Blitzbok Schedule for Friday, 1 December (SA times)

8.52am: Uganda. 12.36pm: Kenya. 5.53pm: Canada.

 

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