Teen gets Blitzbok call-up
Cape Town - Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu has handed an international debut to another promising teenager after he included William Small-Smith in the 12-man squad for the last two HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments later this month in England and Scotland.
Three Springbok Sevens squad members were selected in the SA U20 team for the IRB Junior World Championship to be staged next month in Italy, while injury to two more regulars meant Treu eventually had to make several changes for the season-ending tournaments in London and Edinburgh.
Craig Barry, Tshotsho Mbovane and Paul Jordaan will represent the Baby Boks in Italy while Pieter Engelbrecht (broken nose) and MJ Mentz (hamstring) were not selected because of injury.
Steven Hunt returns in place of Engelbrecht while Bernado Botha replaces Mentz.
The Springbok Sevens side are currently fourth on the World Series log and the team will be looking to maintain the momentum and fine form which have seen them capturing the USA title in Las Vegas, winning the Plate in Hong Kong and losing a thrilling Adelaide Cup final against Series leaders New Zealand.
The 19-year old Small-Smith is a former Grey College and SA Schools captain and also led the SARU High Performance U18 squad last year against England in Port Elizabeth.
The teenager, who can play centre and wing, will become the sixth youngster to make his international debut for the Springbok Sevens after Treu also handed debuts earlier in the season to Mark Richards, Lubabalo Mtembu, Boom Prinsloo, Paul Jordaan and Tshotsho Mbovane.
Treu said he was satisfied with the travelling squad, despite the shuffling. "The team has a familiar look despite the changes. The players, even the relative newcomers, are all very familiar with our playing style and our approach which mean that they should be able to slot in easily.
"I'm particularly pleased for the inclusion of William. He is a bright prospect and his inclusion is reward for consistent hard work the past season with the squad. The youngsters before him have made the most of their chances and he now gets the opportunity to do the same," said Treu.
The Springbok Sevens coach added that his team will aim to end as high as possible on the Series log. "We played some good Sevens rugby during our last three tournaments and the team will be looking to maintain that form and to end the season on a positive note. One of our main objectives this season was to give as much playing opportunities as possible to the newcomers in the squad and I’m pleased to say that we achieved that.
Furthermore, Treu was announced as assistant coach to the Contipartners Premier XV, who will play the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on June 4, 2011.
The squad leave on Monday 16 May to London from the Cape Town International Airport.
The Springbok Sevens squad for the London and Edinburgh events:
Chris Dry, Kyle Brown (c), Frankie Horne, Neil Powell, Boom Prinsloo, Branco du Preez, Paul Delport, Cecil Afrika, Sibusiso Sithole, Steven Hunt, Bernado Botha, William Small-Smith.