Cape Town - The experienced Chris Dry will return to the Springbok Sevens squad for the first time in more than a year after being named in the tour group for the World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in New Zealand and Australia.
Dry last played for the defending World Series champions in Cape Town in December 2017. His return to the side for his 65th tournament is just reward for the months of rehabilitation since he was ruled out with a knee injury 14 months ago. He takes over from Ryan Oosthuizen in the forwards.
There are two changes among the backs to the side that finished third at the Cape Town Sevens in December 2018.
Stedman Gans, who last played in London in June last year, will replace injured Muller du Plessis and Selvyn Davids, the 13th player in Cape Town, comes into the match day squad for Rosko Specman, who has joined the Bulls.
Philip Snyman will again lead the side after missing the second day of action in Cape Town with a shoulder niggle, while Justin Geduld and Werner Kok, who underwent minor surgery for knee and facial injuries last month, have also being declared fit to play in Australasia.
Mfundo Ndhlovu and Cecil Afrika were not considered due to injury though.
The inclusion of Kyle Brown, for his 68th World Series tournament, will see the former team captain equal the record for tournament appearances in the Blitzboks jersey, held by Frankie Horne.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell also named JC Pretorius as the official reserve player, with the former SA Schools flanker set for his Blitzboks debut, should he take to the field.
"We had a slower start than usual to the season, so the next two tournaments will be important for us to keep on improving on our performance," said Powell.
"It is comforting to have 10 players from our last tournament available for selection again as we always look for continuity and consistency. However, the three new players, Chris, Stedman and JC, have been training with us since late last year.
"All three came through well for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in their Dubai tournament in November and joined us after that, so they will not have a problem slotting into tournament mode. We had a good couple of weeks since the Christmas break and everyone is keen to deliver a performance all can be proud of."
On the inclusion of Dry, Powell said: "I am pleased to have Chris back as he will contribute valuable experience and leadership to the squad. He worked really hard to get back in the team and to be able to play at the required level. His determination is commendable and will add to the resilience of the squad, no doubt."
The silky running of the 21-year-old Gans will aid the Blitzboks attack, while Davids showed on the second day in Cape Town that he is ready for a more permanent role in the squad.
The New Zealand Sevens will take place on January 26 and 27 in the FMG Stadium in Waikato, while the Sydney Sevens tournament is scheduled for February 2 and 3 at Spotless Stadium.
The Springbok Sevens squad for the New Zealand Sevens:
1. Chris Dry (64 tournaments; 319 matches, 460 points, 92 tries)
2. Philip Snyman (captain – 56 tournaments; 257 matches, 351 points, 64 tries, 16 conversions)
3. Impi Visser (2 tournaments, 12 matches, 10 points, 2 tries)
4. Zain Davids (15 tournaments; 70 matches, 50 points, 10 tries)
5. Werner Kok (39 tournaments; 196 matches, 450 points, 90 tries)
6. Kyle Brown (67 tournaments; 339 matches, 435 points, 87 tries)
7. Branco du Preez (63 tournaments; 316 matches, 1182 points, 84 tries, 378 conversions, 1 penalty, 1 drop goal)
8. Selvyn Davids (7 tournaments; 29 matches, 102 points, 14 tries, 16 conversions)
9. Justin Geduld (38 tournaments; 194 matches, 872 points, 89 tries, 212 conversions, 1 penalty)
10. Dewald Human (6 tournaments; 26 matches, 79 points, 9 tries, 17 conversions)
11. Siviwe Soyizwapi (20 tournaments; 101 matches, 310 points, 62 tries)
12. Stedman Gans (11 tournaments; 44 matches, 60 points, 12 tries)
13. JC Pretorius* (on debut)
* Replacement Player
The Blitzboks schedule for the first day is (SA times, all matches on SuperSport):
Friday, January 25 at 23h22: vs Kenya
Saturday, January 26 at 03h10: vs France
Saturday, January 26 at 07h22: vs Scotland
The pools for the New Zealand Sevens are:
A - Fiji, Australia, Argentina, Wales
B - USA, England, Samoa, Tonga
C - South Africa, Scotland, France, Kenya
D - New Zealand, Spain, Canada, Japan