Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens team on
Monday called up the uncapped Tim Agaba for the Sydney leg of the HSBC World
Rugby Sevens Series as replacement for Justin Geduld, who is returning home
with a shoulder injury.
Geduld landed awkwardly during a
tackle against New Zealand in their pool match in Wellington on Saturday
morning (SA time).
He did not play at all on Sunday, leaving the already
injury-hit Springbok Sevens team to complete the rest of the tournament with
just 11 players.
Juan de Jongh also left the field
early in the Wellington Cup final against New Zealand due to leg cramps, but he
has been given the green light to participate in the Sydney Sevens this
Agaba signed a full-time contract
with the national squad only a few months ago after playing a starring role for
the Eastern Province Kings during the 2015 Currie Cup, and he is considered as
a very bright prospect.
Current Sevens World Player of the
Year, Werner Kok, as well as the experienced quartet of Frankie Horne, Kyle
Brown, Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez, are all missing from the travelling
squad because of injury, while Ryno Benjamin returned home on the eve of the
Wellington event because of a calf injury.
Five of the Springbok Sevens
players who participated in the Wellington tournament have played in less than
five World Series tournaments, which makes their outstanding showing in
Wellington more remarkable and shows the quality of the depth within the squad.
Sandile Ngcobo made his debut this past weekend, while Carel du Preez (4), Francois
Hougaard (3), Dylan Sage (2) and De Jongh (4) are all relatively inexperienced
in World Series tournaments.
Neil Powell, Springbok Sevens
coach, said Agaba now has the opportunity to show what he can do at the highest
level: “He played very well for the EP Kings in the Currie Cup and also starred
for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy side in their three tournaments recently in
Dubai and South America respectively.
“Tim only joined our setup
recently and I know he is still inexperienced. But the only way to test whether
a player is capable of playing at this level is by giving him a chance.”
According to Powell, Agaba will
slot in amongst the forwards with the versatile Dylan Sage moving to the backs.
Commenting on the loss of the in-form Geduld, Powell said the team showed in
New Zealand that they have sufficient cover.
“Losing Justin is a blow, not only
because of his current form, but also because he is one of the leaders in our
backline and he does good work off-field as well,” said Powell.
“However, with Rosko Specman,
Cheslin Kolbe and Francois Hougaard we have three players that are able to
cover the sweeper / flyhalf roles.”
Meanwhile, the Springbok Sevens
arrived in the Australian capital on Monday following their agonising loss to
New Zealand in the thrilling Wellington Sevens Cup final.
The Blitzboks were in sublime form
on Sunday and defeated Australia and Fiji in the quarter-final and semi-final
stages respectively. New Zealand managed to snatch the title away from the
South Africans with a last-minute try.
South Africa are the top seeds in
Pool B in Sydney, where they will face Kenya, Scotland and Russia on day one at
the Allianz Stadium. They currently top of the World Series standings with 54
points after three tournaments.
The Springbok Sevens squad for
the HSBC Sydney Sevens tournament this weekend:
1. Chris Dry (47 World Series tournaments)
2. Philip Snyman (33, captain)
3. Carel du Preez (4)
4. Kwagga Smith (17)
5. Sandile Ngcobo (1)
6. Francois Hougaard (3)
7. Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province, 11)
8. Dylan Sage (2)
9. Tim Agaba (0)
10. Rosko Specman (8)
11. Seabelo Senatla (22)
Juan de Jongh (DHL
Western Province, 4)