Springbok Sevens stars Mzwandile Stick and Mpho Mbiyozo have returned to the 15-man code, the South African Rugby Union announced on Thursday.
The pair were granted release from their SARU contracts to take up offers to join the Eastern Province Rugby Union.
“We granted their release with a heavy heart, but they have achieved so much in Sevens and have ambitions that they wanted to fulfil in the 15-a-side game so we thought it only right to allow them the opportunity,” said Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu.
“They have been fantastic servants of the Sevens squad, winning the IRB World Sevens Series in 2008/2009 as well being part of tournament winning teams around the world. I’m sure that the experience and skills they have acquired in Sevens will stand them in good stead – as well as their provinces – in future.”
Treu said he had begun succession planning some time ago, which had been hastened by injuries to several leading players in the past season.
“Someone like Cecil Afrika has come through to be a star of the Series this season and we have also been able to test other young players. I have also spoken to some provinces about releasing their players when it comes to the Commonwealth Games championship in India in October.”
Replacements for Stick and Mbiyozo in the group of contracted Springbok Sevens players will be announced later in the year.