Sevens

Blitzbokke forced into changes

2014-01-30 14:12
Kwagga Smith (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The injured Springbok Sevens duo of Seabelo Senatla and Rosco Speckman will return to South Africa and will be replaced by Jamba Ulengo and Kwagga Smith for the Wellington Sevens on February 7-8, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Thursday.

The two wings sustained ankle injuries during last weekend’s Las Vegas Sevens, where the Bok Sevens team won the tournament title for a second successive year.  Smith and Ulengo will join the squad on Saturday.

Justin Geduld (knee) and Sampie Mastriet (ankle) also suffered minor niggles in Las Vegas but they should be ready for selection for next weekend’s action in the New Zealand capital.

Senatla, despite not playing in the Cup final against New Zealand, was the top try scorer in Las Vegas with six tries in his first World Series outing of the season after he had missed the previous three rounds because of a lower back injury.

Speckman, the Pumas wing, made his full Springbok Sevens debut in the USA. The two injured players will arrive back in South Africa on Saturday.

Speaking from Las Vegas where the team spent a few extra days before flying out to New Zealand, Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said the team is looking forward to maintain its good form and consistency.

Powell said he was fortunate to be able to call on two good replacements thanks to the overall strength of the Blitzbokke’s wider training group: “Jamba was perhaps unlucky to lose out on selection for Las Vegas after a good tournament in PE, while Kwagga has a very good work rate and should be able to slot in easily amongst the other more experienced forwards.”

Powell said he would move impressive and versatile youngster Werner Kok out to wing while adding Junior Springbok flank Smith to the forwards. Kok has impressed since making his Bok Sevens debut only four tournaments ago and it was his power run and try that clinched the Cup against NZ in Las Vegas.

Powell added: “Our main goal this year is to establish a good level of consistency by reaching the Cup semi-final of each tournament,” said Powell. “The players have responded well so far to the challenge and I am very pleased that we are currently on track.”

South Africa finished fourth at the Gold Coast, second in Dubai and they were crowned champions in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas, lifting them to the top of the World Series standings.

The Bok Sevens’ Pool A opponents next Friday in Wellington are Wales, Portugal and England.

The revised Blitzbokke squad for Wellington (with number of tournaments in brackets):

Kyle Brown (captain, 37)
Chris Dry (32)
Philip Snyman (19)
Frankie Horne (54)
Kwagga Smith (1)
Werner Kok (4)
Branco du Preez (27)
Stephan Dippenaar (17)
Justin Geduld (8)
Cecil Afrika (28)
Sampie Mastriet (6)
Jamba Ulengo  (7)

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