18 March 2014
Prolific try-scorer Seabelo Senatla will return to the Springbok Sevens squad for the next two tournaments of the HSBC Sevens World Series, taking place in Tokyo and Hong Kong, but playmaker Cecil Africa will miss the trip to the Far East due to a hamstring problem.
In two changes to the 12-man squad that lost to New Zealand in the final of the Wellington Sevens last month, Steven Hunt replaces Afrika, while Senatla comes in for Sampie Mastriet, who is on Vodacom Super Rugby duty with the Vodacom Bulls.
Senatla was the leading try-scorer with six tries in Las Vegas, where the Springbok Sevens managed to win their second USA title in a row. An ankle injury forced him to miss the Wellington Sevens event two week later in the New Zealand capital.
Hunt last played for the Springbok Sevens in December, when they won the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament and was a stand-out player for the SARU Sevens Academy team that won the Zimbabwe International Sevens in Harare this past weekend.
The Tokyo tournament takes place on 22 and 23 March and will be followed by the prestigious three-day Hong Kong event a week later.
Leading try scorer
Already the winners of two World Series tournaments this season, in Port Elizabeth, Las Vegas, the South Africans are the defending champions in Japan.
The Blitzbokke will head Pool B at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground in Tokyo and have drawn matches against Argentina, Kenya and the hosts, Japan.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, said the team will be aiming to maintain their good level of consistency, which has so far seen them reach the semi-final of each of the previous five tournaments and secured them three Cup final wins.
‘The boys have trained really well’
“The boys have trained really well for these two tournaments and we are leaving some very good players behind,” Powell said in a statement on Monday.
“The good competition for places in the squad is motivating the guys not to only play better in tournaments, but also to do just that in each of our training sessions.
“You start each tournament from scratch, the pool stages are always tough and there will be no room for complacency.”
With just four more rounds to play, New Zealand lead the World Series standings on 99 points, only two points ahead of South Africa.
SPRINGBOK SEVENS SQUAD
Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown (c), Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Jamba Ulengo, Steven Hunt, Seabelo Senatla
Coach: Neil Powell