SA aim to end NZ drought
Cape Town - Kyle Brown will lead a South African Sevens team that will be aiming for their first tournament title in 10 years in New Zealand when the fourth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series kicks off on Friday in Wellington.
The Blitzbokke last won the Kiwi title a decade ago when current coach, Paul Treu, was still playing. Brown and his team-mates will look to turn the tables on their Kiwi hosts who beat them in a thrilling Cup final at the first SA Sevens to be staged at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in December.
South Africa are currently third on the HSBC Sevens World Series log with 48 points, just three behind joint leaders Fiji and New Zealand. They will again pin their hopes on the dangerous halfback combination of IRB Player of the Year, Cecil Afrika, and Branco du Preez. Brown and veteran Frankie Horne are the two main forward stalwarts.
Stephan Dippenaar will make his debut in the New Zealand capital while Cornal Hendricks will make only his second Bok Sevens tournament appearance following his debut in Port Elizabeth.
Following their last-minute victory at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, New Zealand were drawn in Pool A as the top seeds alongside Samoa, Scotland and Japan. All Black wing Hosea Gear has been selected to play for the hosts in the fourth round of the World Series.
Fiji, Wales, Argentina and Tonga are grouped in a very strong Pool C while resurgent France, Australia, Canada and Kenya will battle it out for two Cup qualifying spots in Group D.
The Springbok Sevens squad for Wellington is:
1. Chris Dry
2. Frankie Horne
3. Boom Prinsloo
4. Cornal Hendricks
5. Kyle Brown (captain)
6. Branco du Preez
7. Bernado Botha
8. Paul Delport
9. Cecil Afrika
10. Steven Hunt
11. Mark Richards
12. Stephan Dippenaar (debutant)
The Blitzbokke start their campaign against the USA at 02:00. Their second Pool B match is against the Cook Islands at 04:56 and this will be followed by their possible pool-decider against England at 09:50.