Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell named an experienced team to defend their HSBC Sevens World Series tournament title at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas next weekend.
Injury permitting, the same team will also travel to New Zealand a week later for the Wellington Sevens tournament.
Powell included 10 players from his contracted group and handed a national debut to Steval Pumas flyer Rosko Specman. Powell also included a fit-again Seabelo Senatla, who will make a first appearance in the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.
Vodacom Bulls winger Sampie Mastriet, who played in all three IRB tournaments thus far this season, has again being included in the squad and Stephan Dippenaar is also back, having returned to full fitness after missing the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in December.
In all, Powell made three changes from the squad that won the Port Elizabeth event, with Specman, Dippenaar and Senatla replacing Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith and Steven Hunt respectively.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to finalise the squad as everyone really worked hard to make the final cut,” said Powell.
“Players such as Steven, Kwagga and Jamba Ulengo can count themselves unlucky not to be in the team, whilst Paul Delport has also just returned to full fitness after a serious knee injury.
“Rosko was with the team in Port Elizabeth and just missed out on selection there, but he kept working hard and deserves his opportunity,” Powell said of the Nelspruit-based player.
“He excelled for the SARU Sevens Academy team and was named Player of the Tournament at the Punta del Este 7s earlier this month, so I am confident that he can contribute significantly in our efforts to retain our title in Las Vegas.”
South Africa will be looking at a third title in in the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, but will first have to overcome Kenya, Wales and Canada in Pool A.
They are currently second on the HSBC Sevens World Series log with 56 points, just two behind New Zealand (58).
The Springbok Sevens team (with number of tournaments) is:
Kyle Brown (captain, 36), Chris Dry (31), Philip Snyman (18), Frankie Horne (53), Rosko Specman (0), Werner Kok (3), Branco du Preez (26), Stephan Dippenaar (16), Justin Geduld (7)
Cecil Afrika (27), Sampie Mastriet (5), Seabelo Senatla (5)