Afrika ready for Blitzbokke
Cape Town - IRB Sevens Player of the Year Cecil Afrika was on Wednesday included in the final squad of 12 Springbok Sevens players for round one of the HSBC Sevens World Series to be held on Friday and Saturday at the Gold Coast in Australia.
Afrika, also the current SARU Sevens Player of the Year, has recovered fully from his broken jaw suffered during the pre-season and will be in action at Skilled Park, the new home of Australian Sevens after the switch from Adelaide.
Branco du Preez and William Small-Smith are the two players who missed out on selection for the opening tournament of the 2011/12 Series season, which now consist of nine tournaments following the recent addition of Japan.
“We picked the best available team,” explained Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach. “The new seeding and points format will bring a new dimension to how you approach each tournament and teams will simply have to be at their best if they want to stay in the hunt,” added Treu.
South Africa face Pool B matches against hosts Australia, USA and Japan for the Gold Coast Sevens, following the pool draw which took place at the beginning of November
The winners and runners up from each event will automatically be placed in Pool A and B respectively for the following tournament, before the draw for each pool is made, adding a new element to this Series.
“The USA is always a difficult customer while Japan is improving all the time. Australia will play with a huge amount of pride because it is their home tournament. New Zealand is always strong while Fiji, Samoa and England are formidable,” said Treu.
Last season South Africa ended the Series as the in-form team when they claimed back-to-back Cups in Scotland and England, which enabled the team to secure second spot on the Series standings behind New Zealand.
Treu has selected a balanced and settled squad for the opening tournament. Robert Ebersohn is back after a two-year absence while Chase Minnaar and Renfred Dazel have shrugged off their injuries which kept them on the sidelines for most of last season.
Kyle Brown and Frankie Horne form the core of an experienced forward division while Boom Prinsloo will be keen to add to his impressive performances of last year.
The last time Treu's side faced Australia was in the Cup final in Edinburgh, one of the most pulsating matches of the 2010/11 Series. South Africa came from 28-7 and 35-19 behind to snatch a dramatic 36-35 victory, but Treu believes each match in Pool B will be just as tough as that against the hosts.
The Springbok Sevens team for round 1 of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Australia:
1. Chris Dry
2. Kyle Brown (captain)
3. Frankie Horne
4. Boom Prinsloo
5. Chase Minnaar
6. Paul Delport
7. Renfred Dazel
8. Mark Richards
9. Steven Hunt
10. Bernado Botha
11. Robert Ebersohn
12. Cecil Afrika
The fixtures on day one (to be televised live on SuperSport, with SA times):
06h47: SA vs. USA
09h53: SA vs. Japan
13h36: SA vs. Australia