CAPE TOWN – Dewald Human will captain an exciting Springbok Sevens squad which includes five uncapped players next weekend's Hong Kong Sevens.
Human is one of six players who were part of the Blitzboks squad that won the World Rugby Sevens Series in the 2016/17 season. The squad will travel east on Saturday.
Heino Bezuidenhout, Mosolwa Mafuma, James Murphy, Rhyno Smith and Mfundo Ndhlovu will all make their Springbok Sevens debuts in Hong Kong.
Ryan Oosthuizen, Zain Davids, Marco Labuschagne, Selvyn Davids, Muller du Plessis and Stedman Gans all played in Vancouver earlier this month, where South Africa claimed the bronze medal at the HSBC Canada Sevens, the sixth tournament in the series of ten.
Human last played for the Blitzboks in London in 2017.
All the debutants are contracted with the SA Rugby Sevens Academy and have progressed through the sevens structures.
The 21-year-old Bezuidenhout, who played for the Tuks in the Young Guns tournament of the Varsity Cup last year, captained the South African Under-18 Sevens team that won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in 2015.
Mafuma, who earlier represented Shimlas in the Varsity Cup, played for the Academy side in tournaments in France, Germany, Dubai, Uruguay and Chile in the last year.
Ndhlovu, who represented Mpumalanga for two years in the U18 Craven Week, joined the Academy straight out of school and also played in Germany and South America, while Smith has Currie Cup and Super Rugby experience with the Leopards and the Sharks.
Murphy joined the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in January and will travel in national colours for the first time. The 22-year-old University of Stellenbosch student in financial planning represented Western Province at the Interprovincial Sevens tournament and in November played for the SA All Stars at the Safland Sevens in Namibia.
“We certainly have a good mix of potential and experience in the squad and I believe we will be competitive in Hong Kong,” said interim coach, Marius Schoeman.
Regular Blitzbok coach Neil Powell and a number of regular players on the series will remain in Stellenbosch for the next 10 days as they prepare for the Commonwealth Games.
Oosthuizen, Selvyn Davids and Zain Davids will join that squad in Australia after the Hong Kong Sevens.
For Schoeman, who debuted in Hong Kong as a Blitzbok in 2001, the tournament offers multiple opportunities for his squad: “Hong Kong delivers new faces and new stars every year and chances are very good that some of those will come out of this squad.
“This is a great opportunity for us to broaden the base of experience in the squad, to test our players on an iconic stage and most of all, to test our structures with a younger group of players.”
Schoeman says the absence of senior players provides the prospect of new stars emerging for South Africa.
“Any team will miss some of the names not here, but this is a wonderful opportunity for this group of players to show what they can do. I am very excited to be part of this venture,” the former national sevens captain explained.
Human, who will take over as captain from Philip Snyman for this tournament, will add his name to an illustrious group of players to lead his country, which includes Schoeman, Powell, Frankie Horne, Kyle Brown, Mzwandile Stick, Mpho Mbiyozo, Jonathan Mokuena and Paul Treu.
“It is a great honour to lead the team,” Human said. “We have a strong leadership core in the squad, so I believe my job will be easy. We have good systems in place and if we execute that well, the results will come. We cannot wait to go out there and play.”
The Springbok Sevens team (with World Rugby Sevens Series stats):
1. Heino Bezuidenhout (uncapped)
2. Ryan Oosthuizen (6 tournaments, 23 matches, 20 points, 5 tries)
3. Zain Davids (9 tournaments, 36 matches, 20 points, five tries)
4. Marco Labuschagne (2 tournaments, 2 matches, 0 points)
5. Mosolwa Mafuma (uncapped)
6. James Murphy (uncapped)
7. Selvyn Davids (3 tournaments, 15 matches, 21 points, three tries)
8. Dewald Human (captain; 2 tournaments, 7 points, 1 try)
9. Rhyno Smith (uncapped)
10. Stedman Gans (8 tournaments, 30 matches, 20 points, 4 tries)
11. Muller du Plessis (2 tournaments, 8 matches, 5 points)
12. Mfundo Ndhlovu (uncapped)
13. Sandile Ngcobo* (6 tournaments, 20 matches, 4 tries)
* Official replacement player
The Springbok Sevens schedule in Pool C (SA times):
Friday, 6 April:
13h10 v South Korea
Saturday, 7 April:
06h22 v Scotland
10h26 v England
African News Agency (ANA)