Rome - Current World Rugby's Sevens Player of the Year, Werner Kok, will make a first return to the playing field this year at the Roma Sevens as part of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy side that will travel to Italy next week.
Kok, who sustained a knee injury at the Emirates Dubai Sevens in December last year, missed the remainder of the World Rugby Sevens Series, but now gets a final chance to push for inclusion in the team to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio later this year.
Also amongst the selections by coach Marius Schoeman for the tournament in Rome from 10-11 June are Frankie Horne and Warrick Gelant.
Gelant is returning to the sevens fray after good performances for the Bulls in the Super Rugby competition earlier this year, while Horne, a veteran of 68 World Series tournaments, will make a last ditch effort to crack the Rio squad following ankle surgery earlier this year.
Also included in the side are regular Blitzboks Stephan Dippenaar, Branco du Preez, Sandile Ncgobo and Siviwe Soyizwapi, while Schoeman also named newcomers Luke van der Smit, Donovan du Randt and Ryan Oosthuizen in the side. Ncgobo will lead the side.
Dewald Human, who scored a try for the Southern Kings in their win over the Jacquares last weekend, is another returning to the side that will be looking to win yet another Roma Sevens title.
“The Roma Sevens tournament is of significant importance to us this year,” Schoeman said.
“Not only will it give the likes of Werner, Warrick and Frankie an opportunity to go out and play and show they are contenders for Team SA’s Rugby Sevens squad, it will also be an important chance for the younger guys to stake a claim for the Blitzboks contracted squad. A number of players will move on after the Olympics, so there are opportunities to be taken.
“The Roma Sevens will provide high class opposition and I am sure we will get all the answers we want out of the tournament.”
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell will also travel to Rome to watch the team in action.
SA Rugby Sevens Academy team:
1. Frankie Horne
2. Sandile Ngcobo (captain)
3. Luke van der Smit
4. Ryan Oosthuizen
5. Stephan Dippenaar
6. Branco du Preez
7. Donovan du Randt
8. Lungelo Gosa
9. Warrick Gelant
10. Dewald Human
11. Werner Kok
12. Siviwe Soyizwapi