Cape Town - The inclusion of uncapped Sandile Ngcobo is one
of two changes to the Springbok Sevens squad announced on Wednesday for the
next two legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series, in Wellington and Sydney, where
the experienced Philip Snyman will captain the side for the first time.
SA Rugby Union president, Oregan Hoskins, named the 12-man
squad on Wednesday afternoon at the Steinhoff Springbok Sevens sponsorship
launch in Stellenbosch. Steinhoff signed a three-year agreement to sponsor the
The team won their third home title in a row last December
at the inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens. They will, however, travel to New
Zealand and Australia without the key injured duo of skipper Kyle Brown and
playmaker Cecil Afrika.
Brown has been rested due to a niggling shoulder injury,
while Afrika is still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in the
season-opening Dubai tournament last December.
In a rotational change, Carel du Preez comes in for Dylan
Sage who made his Springbok Sevens debut in Cape Town, while Snyman will take
over the captaincy in the absence of Brown.
Ngcobo is the latest in a long list of players to graduate
from the successful SA Rugby Sevens Academy squad to the Springbok Sevens
ranks. He has won numerous international tournaments with the Academy side and
he played for ORC Griquas in last year’s Currie Cup competition.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said his team will focus
on consistency in Wellington and Sydney.
“In the past we struggled to regain our best form after
playing in Dubai and in our home tournament, so our mental focus will be a key
aspect for us on this tour,” explained Powell.
“We are building towards the Olympics Games in Rio, so it is
important that we perform well in the World Series. These two tournaments will
offer us another opportunity to rotate some players and introduce a new one.
Stix (Sandile) has been knocking on the door for a while now and I know he is
excited and very keen to play on the World Series circuit.”
The squad will complete their preparations with a series of
training matches on Friday morning against Maties at the Paul Roos Markötter
Stadium in Stellenbosch before departing for Wellington on Saturday.
South Africa are the top seeds in Pool A in Wellington,
where they will feature in group matches against Scotland, Russia and
tournament hosts New Zealand.
The Wellington Sevens takes place at the Westpac Stadium on January
30 and 31, and will be followed by the Sydney event a week later on February 6
and 7 at the Allianz Stadium.
The Springbok Sevens squad for New Zealand and Australia
(all SA Rugby contracted unless specified):
Chris Dry (46)
Philip Snyman (32, captain)
Carel du Preez (3)
Kwagga Smith (17)
Sandile Ngcobo (0)
Francois Hougaard (2)
Cheslin Kolbe (Western Province, 10)
Ryno Benjamin (Free State Cheetahs, 31)
Justin Geduld (20)
Rosko Specman (7)
Seabelo Senatla (21)
Juan de Jongh (Western Province, 3)New Blitzboks jerseys (Photo supplied)