The Blitzboks head into the Hamilton leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series having made a slow start to the defence of their series title.
Last season’s triumph will have taught the Blitzboks never to give up as they had also made a sluggish start. South Africa have gathered 29 points over the opening two legs of the series in Dubai and Cape Town. The Blitzboks lost in the quarterfinals and semifinals at the respective events leaving them 8 points adrift of series leaders the United States of America.
The retirements from Sevens of Seabelo Senatla and Rosko Specman have left coach Neil Powell with two huge sets of boots to fill.
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.
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.
It will be the first outing in the World Rugby Sevens Series for flanker JC Pretorius who turns 21 next week. Pretorius has impressed with the Sevens Academy due to his power married with slick skills.
Chris Dry and Stedman Gans have been recalled with the former providing some much needed experience to the group.
There should be some good value to be gained from backing the USA’s Madison Hughes to end as the top points scorer. The US team have been consistent and could show that their place at the top of the Series log is no fluke.
On form Fiji should be favourites to win the leg but New Zealand will be determined to make up for their semi-final disappointment last year.
Blitzboks squad for the Hamilton 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)
The Blitzboks schedule for the first day is (SA times, all matches on SuperSport):
Friday, 25 January at 23:22: vs Kenya
Saturday 26 January at 3:10: vs France
Saturday 26 January at 7:22: vs Scotland
The pools for the Hamilton Sevens are:
A – Fiji, Australia, Argentina, Wales
B – USA, England, Samoa, Tonga
C – South Africa, Scotland, France, Kenya
D – New Zealand, Spain, Canada, Japan
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