SA target Hong Kong hoodoo
Paul Delport (Gallo Images)
Hong Kong - The Springbok Sevens side will be chasing an elusive first tournament win in Hong Kong when the prestigious three day tournament gets underway on Friday morning in the Far East.
The prized Hong Kong title has so far managed to escape the various challenges of the South Africans, who won their first tournament of the current season last month in Las Vegas.
Hong Kong is round six of the HSBC Sevens World Series, which consists of nine tournaments worldwide.
Before their title success in Las Vegas, the South Africans did not fire on all cylinders mainly due to a long list of injuries which forced a cluster of first-choice players such as regular captain Kyle Brown, former IRB Sevens Player of the Year Cecil Afrika, Mark Richards and Branco du Preez to watch the action from the sidelines.
Du Preez returned to action in Las Vegas where his sniping runs from set pieces helped the Springbok Sevens to their first major tournament success in 18 months.
Despite the various setbacks, the Blitzbokke have managed to create plenty of scoring opportunities, which yielded 25 tries in five matches so far for industrious wing Cornal Hendricks. This feat makes him the World Series’ top try scorer of season so far.
Hard running forward Chris Dry has been in superb form, scoring 17 tries in the process, which makes him the most prolific forward try scorer this season. Dry has been superbly aided by Blitzbokke hard man Frankie Horne, who is leading the team in the absence of Brown.
Horne said although his team would like to build on the success of Las Vegas, they are well aware that Hong Kong is a far different tournament.
“We came close a few times here and managed third place last year, but Hong Kong is an extremely tough place to win. The World Series is so competitive that you must be on your best in each pool match.
“I think the win in Las Vegas has shown us that we must have more self-belief in our ability and what we want to achieve on the field,” explained Horne.
Steven Hunt makes his return to World Series action after a two month layoff because of a foot injury.
South Africa’s Pool A opponents are Argentina, Wales and Australia.
The South Africa squad for Hong Kong is:
Chris Dry, Philip Snyman
, Frankie Horne (captain), Jamba Ulengo, Cornal Hendricks,Tshotsho Mbovane, Branco Du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Paul Delport, Justin Geduld, Seabelo Senatla, Steven HuntThe South Africa pool fixtures in Hong Kong are (SA kick-off times):
Friday 22 March
15h16: SA v Argentina
Saturday, 23 March
07h46: SA v Australia
14h00: SA v Wales