Mapoe back with Blitzbokke
Pretoria – Lionel Mapoe's Cheetahs and Sharks jerseys have perhaps sat a little uncomfortably on his broad shoulders in the last few months, but this fine player will feel quite at home when he puts on his Bok Sevens practice jersey.
The speedy wing, who after months of contractual drama, has finally settled down with the Lions, will now arrive at the Springbok Sevens squad's training camp in Stellenbosch.
It would appear that he has been earmarked to turn out for the team again early next month when the International Rugby Board's 2010-11 series kicks off in Dubai.
It was because of a string of excellent performances in the Sevens team that Mapoe was wanted by so many teams in the first place, but the only thing that this man from Bloemfontein got as a result, was a whole lot of problems and very little time on the field.
"Everything has now been resolved and Lionel will join us," said the relieved Sevens coach Paul Treu on Monday. He spoke from Singapore where his Vipers team came unstuck against the Penguins invitational team in the final of a recent international tournament.
"We wanted to bring Lionel here for match training, but his contract issues had still not been resolved. But now he can join us and I'm keen to work with him again."
The coach was also satisfied with the way in which the previous tournament had been played in the Eastern island city.
"We lost in additional playing time against an invitational team, consisting of a few Junior All Blacks and members of the New Zealand Sevens team, but I learned a lot during the tournament. Certain newcomers like Jacques and Pieter Engelbrecht made a big impression, while one or two of the younger players struggled a bit to make their mark at this level."
Treu will send a team to Namibia next Friday for a tournament, and those who stay behind should form the group despatched to Dubai to salvage South Africa's honour. For the thousands of South Africans who travel to see the games live, last season's quarter-final defeat against Fiji was a big disappointment.
"We recently played a strong club team from Fiji and we beat them. The younger guys had to dig deep and it was a great learning experience for them. Kyle Brown and Frankie Horne also got a lot of time on the field after their injuries," he said.
Boom Prinsloo (exam commitments) and Chris Dry (broken finger) will be playing again on Wednesday while Sharks' U21 wing Mark Richards could be invited to the training camp after his excellent performances in Singapore.
The Sevens team will play practice matches against the Ikeys and the Maties before they leave on November 26 for Dubai, the tournament played on December 2 and 3.