FILE - Bulls centre Stedman Gans during their Preparation Series match against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
FILE - Bulls centre Stedman Gans during their Preparation Series match against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Stedman Gans boosts Blitzboks at Tokyo Olympics

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Apr 30, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – In a welcome boost to their medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics, the Springbok Sevens side will have captain Stedman Gans available for the rest of the season.

The 24-year-old, who hails from Vredenburg on the Cape West Coast, has been out of action for the last two months due to a serious ankle injury he sustained while on duty for the Bulls against the Stormers in March.

In a freak accident, Gans’ leg got caught underneath the body of Bulls centre partner Cornal Hendricks, and he was ruled out for 10 weeks, which would take him up to the end of May.

ALSO READ: Blitzboks begin preparations for Tokyo Olympics

That would have ruled him out of most of the Bulls’ Rainbow Cup SA campaign anyway, but now he has been released to join the Blitzboks at their Stellenbosch base.

“I don’t know if he’s quite over his injury. He has actually gone down to SAS (Stellenbosch Academy of Sport) to do his rehab. Let’s not forget that the Bulls actually are owners of SAS (through Johann Rupert) – so it’s nice that he can be close to his family and get professional help from SAS, and that’s the head office of the sevens campaign as well. He is in capable hands,” White said on Friday after naming his team to take on the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (7pm kickoff).

“They are trying their best to get him on to the field as soon as possible, and he will start integrating into the sevens programme, and hopefully do whatever he can to make sure that he gets success at the Olympics.”

Gans was the Blitzboks skipper at the start of 2020, but once White arrived in Pretoria, the former SA Under-20 wing became the first-choice outside centre at the Bulls.

ALSO READ: Blitzboks need to sidestep the ’unpredictable things’ in the lead up to Olympics

He showcased his sevens skills regularly in the 15-man game with his footwork and pace, so Blitzboks coach Neil Powell will be delighted to have him in the mix for Tokyo, along with Bulls wing Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Powell, though, is unlikely to be able to call on Cheslin Kolbe, who will be in the Springbok squad for the British and Irish Lions series, which takes place at the same time as the Rugby Sevens tournament (July 26-31).

SA Rugby said last week that the Blitzboks are set to play in a tournament in Stellenbosch next month against the SA Sevens Academy, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, which Powell will use as trials for the Olympic squad.

ALSO READ: Ronald Brown joins experienced Blitzboks for trip to Spain

The Blitzboks had to be satisfied with a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics after losing 7-5 to Great Britain in the semi-finals, and will be determined to claim gold in Tokyo.

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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