Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens rugby squad announced on Thursday for the next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Tokyo shows two changes from the squad that played in New Zealand and the USA.
Justin Geduld and Stephan Dippenaar return to the 12-man squad in place of Rayno Benjamin and Warrick Gelant, who have returned to the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Blue Bulls respectively to resume their provincial duties.
Geduld, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist with the Blitzboks last year, shrugged off the hamstring injury he picked up in Wellington, which ruled him out of the Las Vegas Sevens.
Dippenaar returns to the Springbok Sevens squad for the first time since the opening round last October, when he sustained a hamstring injury at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia.
The rest of the squad is unchanged from the outfit that finished third in Wellington and Las Vegas. Kyle Brown leads a Blitzboks squad that is very experienced, and has in Frankie Horne a stalwart forward who will play in his 64th consecutive World Series tournament.
The popular three-day tournament in Hong Kong marks round six of the HSBC Sevens World Series and takes place from 27 to 29 March, with the Tokyo event a week later.
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Commenting on his team selection, Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell described the two changes as straight switches, and he thanked the provincial unions for making Gelant and Benjamin available for the Springbok Sevens.
“The unions have been very helpful, and thanks to their excellent cooperation we were able to call on the services of players such as Cheslin (Kolbe), Rayno and Warrick to play for us. The players made an excellent contribution and we are grateful to the unions for making them available to us,” said Powell.
The coach was pleased with the squad’s preparations for the daunting challenges in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
“We gave the players two weeks off and they came back refreshed and recharged,” said Powell. “They came back with a lot more energy. They are in a good mental space and I am pleased with the overall training intensity.”
The team will round off their preparations with a session against the visiting Zimbabwean training squad on Thursday and will have their captain’s run on Friday in Stellenbosch. They will depart for Hong Kong from Cape Town on Saturday morning.
South Africa’s Pool C opponents in Hong Kong are France, Argentina and Japan.
The Springbok Sevens squad for Hong Kong and Tokyo is (World Series caps in brackets, all SARU contracted players):
1. Chris Dry (40)
2. Philip Snyman (29)
3. Frankie Horne (64)
4. Kwagga Smith (11)
5. Werner Kok (13)
6. Kyle Brown (captain, 44)
7. Branco du Preez (37)
8. Stephan Dippenaar (22)
9. Justin Geduld (15)
10. Cecil Afrika (35)
11. Seabelo Senatla (14)
12. Rosko Specman (2)
Springbok Sevens’ Pool fixtures in Hong Kong (SA times, all matches live on SuperSport):
Friday 27 March
14:00 vs Argentina
Saturday 28 March
06:18 vs Japan
11:40 vs France
Sunday 29 March
03:30 Start of knockout matches