Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown will play in his 50th tournament for the Springbok Sevens while Dylan Sage will make his South African debut and Rosko Specman is back for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens this coming weekend.
The squad was announced in Cape Town on Thursday and the inclusion of Sage is one of two changes to the Springbok Sevens’ 12-man squad that won the Plate final last weekend in Dubai. The changes are as a result of injuries to Cecil Afrika (hamstring) and Werner Kok (knee).
Kok will undergo knee surgery on Thursday in Cape Town, and the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year will be out of action for at least six months. Afrika will be sidelined for two weeks.
Specman replaces Afrika after a superb performance last weekend for the Samurai in Dubai. The Steval Pumas speedster has already played in six World Series tournaments.
The strongly built Sage, in for Kok, played on the wing for the Ikeys in the Varsity Cup earlier this year and is equally at home amongst the Sevens forwards. The 23-year old recently signed a SARU Sevens contract and has played on numerous occasions for the successful SARU Sevens Academy.
The Springbok Sevens will be defending their home title and are aiming for a third straight Cup win on home soil after two successive wins in Port Elizabeth.
Brown said the team was extremely excited by the prospects of playing in front of a capacity crowd at Cape Town Stadium.
“The support of the fans in Cape Town haven been absolutely fantastic so far this week,” said Brown.
“I think our performances the previous years in PE has shown that we can handle the pressure of playing at home. We have spoken about the pressure and the expectations of the home crowd and we are embracing the challenge.”
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said the squad was in a good mental space.
“The guys are up for it and looking forward to play in front of 110,000 fans over the two days,” said Powell.
“I am happy with our preparations and we have worked really hard to solve the mistakes we made in Dubai.”
Commenting on the changes, Powell said: “Injuries are part and parcel of the game and it’s unfortunate that we have lost both Cecil and Werner. However, that again give opportunities to Rosko and Dylan, and I am sure they are excited about the challenge.”
South Africa are grouped with Zimbabwe, Kenya and England in Pool B. They start their campaign on Saturday at 12h49 against neighbours Zimbabwe, then tackle Kenya at 16h10. Their last fixture is at 19h56 against England.
The Springbok Sevens squad for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens tournament (SARU contracted unless specified, number of World Series tournaments in brackets):
- Chris Dry (45)
- Philip Snyman (31)
- Francois Hougaard (1)
- Kwagga Smith (16)
- Dylan Sage (0)
- Kyle Brown (49 – captain)
- Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province, 9)
- Ryno Benjamin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs, 30)
- Justin Geduld (19)
- Rosko Specman (6)
- Seabelo Senatla (20)
- Juan de Jongh (DHL Western Province, 2)