Kurt-Lee Arendse impressed the Sevens world with his balling ability at last year's Singapore 7s..Photo: SA Rugby

JOHANNESBURG - It’s 50 years of the Dubai Sevens!

Yeah, that’s big, but never mind the sideshows, the rugby’s going to be bigger.

It’s the start of the 2019-20 World Sevens Series. All teams are going to want to prove a point and get the momentum going with the Tokyo Olympics in mind, but it’s a process, and it all starts this weekend.

With that in mind, here are seven players who can upstage Dubai’s celebrations and steal the show all by themselves easily.

Rosko Specman

Call him Mr Electric Feet. Call him Mr Swerve and Pace. Call him Mr Deception after all, that’s what he does to defenders. Call him whatever you want, point is, he’ll deliver.

Specman is one of a handful of experienced campaigners returning to the Blitzboks for the first two tournaments, and there can be no doubt that he will make an impact.

In a team somewhat devoid of experience, the Bulls pacer brings points to the experience-gained tally and X-factor, of course.

Check out a YouTube video of him and you’re guaranteed to be as impressed by the 18th as you are by the first.

His magic on the inside is unrivalled. He goes by the nickname of Specmagic for a reason, after all. Excitement personified.

Rosko Specman will be available to the Blitzboks for the first two tournament of the new Series before returning to the Bulls. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix
Rosko Specman will be available to the Blitzboks for the first two tournament of the new Series before returning to the Bulls. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Dan Norton

Pace.

You don’t need to start a conversation with “no offense” if that’s the first thing you think of when mentioning the Gloucester-born speed merchant, even though offense could easily be taken if you confine his talents to the speed of his strides alone.

He is the leading all-time try-scorer in Sevens, but that’s nothing by his standards.

Ask him to hit 36km/* across an 80m pitch, and he’ll do it, no problem.

Norton has personified England Sevens and the considerable number of problems they’ve caused South Africa down the years.

But let’s not focus on his brilliance alone, please.

Jerry Tuwai

Those in fifteens almost always think of Aaron Smith as a problem but Tuwai specialises in terrorising his opposition on the Sevens pitch.

He has the ability to change the predicted outcome of a game single-handedly (if Fiji are ever in trouble), and while his team’s ridiculous basketball-like offloading skills weren’t enough, his feet are some of the best in the game just in case you needed a reason to remain interested.

Fiji, as a team, are a problem. Think of Jerry Tawai, and the problems they present as a collective suddenly doesn’t seem that bad if you focus on him alone.

Maurice Longbottom

Hot-stepper. Diminutive game-breaker. Use whatever AKA you want he is good.

South Africans can despise Australians for sports reasons all they want, but there’s no denying this man’s ability.

The relative youngster has been a sensation in recent times, and if injury decides to leave him alone this season, he’s going to be a problem.

Seabelo Senatla

The SA Sevens set-up will surely welcome his return.

Sure, he’s made no secret of his fifteens ambitions, but his contributions on the circuit have been next level. His try-scoring antics are as well-known as Sevens’ association to a “good time”.

Speaking of which want to catch some of that? Just check him out in Dubai. Speed, skill and surreal acceleration defined.

Perry Baker of the USA scores a try against Argentina during day 1 of the 2018 HSBC Cape Town Sevens at Cape Town Stadium in 2018. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Perry Baker of the USA scores a try against Argentina during day 1 of the 2018 HSBC Cape Town Sevens at Cape Town Stadium in 2018. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Perry Baker

Obviously he’s going to be first on the USA’s “squad-named” list.

He’s the most prolific try-scorer among USA Sevens citizens, and I would hope that says enough.

His pace is ridiculous, he’s been called a “monstrous speedster” and a “physical beast”, or so I’ve heard.

Google “the best tries in Sevens” and Baker is sure to be the provider of a significant number of some of those. He played an instrumental role in the USA’s elevation, and for good reason.

Kurt-Lee Arendse

Not a “big name” by any standards, but he’s one to watch.

He’s the Boy Wonder, and some would even call him the “future of Springbok Sevens”, and none of that is an exaggeration. This guy is good.

It doesn’t only have to do with his speed, but those things in rugby that sometimes go unnoticed, that he has as well.

Bonginkosi Ndadane


IOL Sport

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