CAPE TOWN – The Sydney leg of the 2017/18 World Sevens Series should be a treat - not only will fans see their Blitzboks defend their Sydney title, but they could also see exciting loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe make his Blitzboks debut.
Notshe was named in the squad as the replacement player to travel with the team, before the skillful forward - who joined the Blitzboks squad in October last year - returns to Super Rugby after the New Zealand event along with Stormers mate Seabelo Senatla, the Bulls’ Tim Agaba and Lions star Kwagga Smith.
Blitzboks chief Neil Powell said that the event that starts on January 26 should give Notshe a good briefing on the Sevens environment.
“We made the call to take Sikhumbuzo along as reserve player in order for him to get first-hand experience of what a World Series tournament is all about and he will be called upon if anyone picks up an injury,” explained Powell.
While Notshe could make his first appearance for the Springbok Sevens side in Australia, Dylan Sage and Stedman Gans could get back into Sevens action, as the duo have been recalled for the Sydney tournament and the Hamilton event the following weekend.
Sage replaces Chris Dry and Gans comes in for Branco du Preez.
Dry sustained a season-ending knee injury at the Cape Town Sevens and Du Preez injured a hamstring in training last week. A back injury kept Sage out of the Dubai and Cape Town weekends, while Gans, who last played for the Blitzboks in Singapore last season, could gain some more experience with the Blitzboks after making his debut at the 2017 Las Vegas leg. The 20-year-old Gans was part of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy team that won the Sudamerica Rugby 7s tournaments in Uruguay and Chile in the last fortnight.
The Blitzboks are currently second after New Zealand on the overall World Series log. They will face Papua New Guinea, Spain and England in Pool C of the Sydney leg, which starts on Friday, 26 January.
Philip Snyman will again lead the side and play in his 50th World Series tournament. They depart for Sydney tomorrow.
The Springbok Sevens team is:
Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman, Dylan Sage, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Stedman Gans, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Sikhumbuzo Notshe (replacement player)