Snyman leads Blitzboks into new Dubai era
Cape Town - A new era in Springbok Sevens rugby will begin next weekend in the Dubai tournament, with Philip Snyman leading the team on a full-time basis following Kyle Brown’s decision to step down this week.
Blitzbok coach Neil Powell recalled Branco du Preez and Chris Dry, who missed out on the squad for the Rio Olympics (Dry was a travelling squad reserve, but did not play), where South Africa claimed a bronze medal after losing to Great Britain in the semi-finals and beating Japan in a third-place playoff.
The duo effectively replace Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe for the Dubai Sevens, while Ruhan Nel comes in for the injured Tim Agaba.
That sees Dylan Sage operating as a forward instead of a back at the Sevens Stadium next Friday and Saturday, where the Blitzboks will face Scotland, Uganda and USA in the pool stages.
Kwagga Smith has recovered from a minor quad strain that saw him miss out on a warm-up tournament in Cape Town last weekend, while superstar Seabelo Senatla – who was chosen as the World Sevens Player of the Year this month – is fully fit after sustaining a wrist injury during the Rio Olympics.
“Dylan has played as a forward for us before and did very well there in our recent warm-up tournament in Namibia, so I am very happy to name him in the front-line,” Powell said on Friday.
“He might not be the most experienced in that position, but we have a number of stalwarts in the pack. Kyle, Philip and Chris are some of the most experienced players ever in our squad, so I am pretty confident that they will guide Dylan through any potential potholes.
“No doubt, we will be one of the most experienced sides in Dubai. This group of players have won a couple of tournaments in the past, but as we realised at the end of the previous season in our final against Scotland, you cannot relax for one second. So experience only really counts when you combine that with faith in your structures and your best effort on the day.”
Siviwe Soyizwapi will travel with the team as an extra injury reserve as part of new World Rugby protocols.
The Blitzboks were knocked out in the Dubai Cup quarter-finals by USA in 2015. They finished second in the World Series standings last season, with Fiji winning the title and then going on to clinch Olympic gold in Rio.
Springbok Sevens Squad
Chris Dry, Philip Snyman (captain), Dylan Sage, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Ruhan Nel, Seabelo Senatla. Travelling Reserve: Siviwe Soyizwapi.@ashfakmohamed