Regular Springbok Sevens squad members, Justin Geduld and Kyle Brown, will make a welcome return to play this weekend after being named in the Blitzboks squad that will play in the Assupol International 7s tournament in Stellenbosch on Saturday and Sunday.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, included the duo in a 16-man squad that will face England Academy, Kenya and Scotland in pool play at the Markötter Sports Grounds in Stellenbosch on Saturday.
It will be the first warm-up opportunity for the Blitzboks before the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicks off in Dubai on 1 and 2 December, followed by the sold-out HSBC Cape Town Sevens a week later.
Brown last played for the Blitzboks in Cape Town in 2016, where he picked up a serious knee injury, which ruled him out of the remainder of the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Geduld injured his foot at the HSBC Las Vegas tournament in March at the fifth of 10 tournaments in the World Series.
Their return to the team follows months of rehabilitation and Powell was pretty pleased to have them back on the field, with the 2017/18 season just over a month away.
“Kyle and Justin are key members of the squad and they have worked incredibly hard to get back to match fitness and this tournament is the ideal way for them to get some matches under the belt and get their sharpness back,” said Powell.
Powell also selected a number of regulars who helped the Blitzboks win the overall 2016/17 World Series, including Chris Dry and Rosko Specman, who recently played for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup, as well as Branco du Preez, who had a stint with the Xerox Golden Lions.
Seven players who travelled to the Oktoberfest 7s in Munich at the end of September as part of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy were also included, with one player, Michal Haznar, new to the group.
The midfielder played for FNB Maties in the FNB Varsity Cup, presented by Steinhoff International, and for DHL Western Province in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge this season.
“We are a bit short on midfielders in the squad with a number of players still with the WP Currie Cup squad, so Michael gets an opportunity to show his worth. He has been on our radar, so will have a good chance to impress,” said Powell.
“The likes of Chris and Rosko will also get game time, as they need to get back into sevens mode, while I am also keen to see a number of the younger guys in action.”
The South Africans will open their campaign on Saturday against England Academy. The visitors are fresh off a solid performance in Germany, where they finished fourth in the Oktoberfest 7s and should have some momentum coming into the game.
Kenya will be next up for the Blitzboks and this will be a real test for the home side against another regular in the World Series, before the final match of the afternoon against Scotland. The visitors won the last tournament of the previous HSBC World Series when they overpowered England to win the HSBC London Sevens in May.
The Blitzbok squad for the Assupol International Sevens is: Chris Dry, Impi Visser, Marco Labuschagne, Sako Makata, Kyle Brown, Ryan Oosthuizen, Philip Snyman (captain), Dylan Sage, Branco du Preez, Dewald Human, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Sandile Ngcobo, Michal Haznar, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Mosolwa Mafuma.
The Blitzboks schedule for Saturday, 28 October is:
11h20: v England Academy
14h00: v Kenya
16h40: v Scotland
• The SA Rugby Sevens Academy Under-17s will also be in action at the Assupol Sevens. Coach Marius Schoeman has invited a group of 25 players to a week-long camp in Stellenbosch and two SA teams will play in the U17 competition, which also will also see the national teams of Argentina and Namibia in action.