CAPE TOWN – Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell says he’s pleased his players who were disrupted by injury during the Hamilton leg of the 2017/18 World Sevens Series are responding well as they prepare for the Las Vegas event next weekend.
Powell has made six changes to the team that played in the final in New Zealand, and four are due to Super Rugby commitments, as Seabelo Senatla, Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Stormers), Tim Agaba (Bulls) and Kwagga Smith (Lions) all back with their respective franchises. Justin Geduld and Rosko Specman, meanwhile, have been ruled out with a jaw and hamstring injury respectively.
The experienced Philip Snyman has recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the Hamilton leg, and will again lead the side when they run out in Vegas.
And while the Blitzboks will have some great experience in Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez and Cecil Afrika, the other half-centurions set to travel to North America tomorrow, outside back Muller du Plessis could make his Springbok Sevens debut in Nevada.
The 18-year-old Du Plessis, a former SA Schools and SA Rugby Sevens Academy representative, joined the squad in Hamilton as a replacement player, but his debut evaded him as he was ruled out due to a knock sustained in training.
Selvyn Davids will fill the playmaker role left vacant by Geduld, while there is also a return to action for Ryan Oosthuizen, Siviwe Soyizwapi and Ruhan Nel.
Davids and Oosthuizen will be in action for the first time in the current series, after making their Blitzbok debuts in the 2016/17 season. Soyizwapi picked up a knee injury at the Cape Town Sevens in December and missed the trip to Australasia.
“We are lucky we could plan for the absence of the four players who have returned to their Super Rugby franchises before the Vegas trip, tapping into our squad depth,” said Powell..
“Siviwe, Selvyn and Ryan have played for us before and I am excited about their expected contributions, while Muller has been part of our plans for a while now. We have a number of old hands on deck, but having some youthful energy from the younger guys are always a bonus.”
The Blitzboks face Wales, Canada and England in Pool B in Las Vegas. They depart for the USA on Saturday.
The Springbok Sevens team: Ryan Oosthuizen, Philip Snyman, Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Muller du Plessis, Selvyn Davids, Cecil Afrika, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Stedman Gans, Ruhan Nel