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Du Preez, Kolbe return for BlitzBokke

Fri, 22 Nov 2013 13:46
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Strong Academy team also travelling
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The South African squad for the next two rounds of the IRB World Sevens Series, in Dubai and Port Elizabeth, shows three changes from the 12-man group that finished fourth at the Gold Coast in October.

The squad has been bolstered by the return to full fitness by livewire scrumhalf Branco du Preez and the inclusion of Junior Springbok attacking star Cheslin Kolbe of Western Province.

Werner Kok is the third change to the squad, while Mark Richards, and Steven Hunt missed out on selection.

Cornal Hendricks, top try-scorer for South Africa last season when they finished second on the World Series log, has joined the Cheetahs for their Super Rugby campaign next season and is unavailable, whilst Seabelo Senatla and veteran Paul Delport are still recovering from injury and were not considered.

Kolbe was included in the travelling party after SARU General Manager for High Performance, Rassie Erasmus, successfully negotiated his temporary release from WP.

Erasmus said on Friday SARU was grateful to the provincial unions for releasing their players to the Springbok Sevens.

Apart from Kolbe, three players from the Bulls, and one each of the EP Kings, Golden Lions and Pumas were released by their provinces after the Currie Cup campaign to join the wider training group in Stellenbosch a fortnight ago.

These players are: Nardus van der Walt, Shaun Adendorff, Sampie Mastriet (all Blue Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Golden Lions), Siviwe Soyizwapi (EP Kings) and Rosco Speckman (Pumas). All will be in action next week in Dubai, either for the Springbok Sevens or the SA Sevens Academy.

Erasmus was full of praised for the willingness of the provinces to assist: "Although they have just completed a tough Currie Cup campaign, they did not hesitate to answer our call for assistance. I want to thank the Bulls, EP Kings, Pumas and Western Province for releasing their players to us," said Erasmus.

Commenting on the squad, Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, said he was pleased with the final selection and added the players are eager to improve on their showing at the Gold Coast.

Powell explained: "Our preparations went well and the guys are really looking forward to Dubai and then to come home and play in front of our home supporters in Port Elizabeth. We are looking for consistency in performance firstly during this series, but will be very keen to win the next two tournaments as we have good track records and support at both venues."

The squad leaves on Sunday from the Cape Town to play in the Dubai Sevens next weekend, November 29 and 30.

They then travel to Port Elizabeth for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens on 8 December 7 and 8 to play in their home tournament.

In Dubai, South Africa will line up against Argentina, Russia and defending tournament champions Samoa in Pool D on match day one.

* Meanwhile SARU named a strong SA Sevens Academy squad to defend their Dubai International Invitational title next week in the desert capital.

Steven Hunt, Mark Richards, Tshotsho Mbovane and Ruwellyn Isbell form the core of a powerful group who will play in Dubai under the banner of the Samurai International selection.

The squad also includes Junior Springboks Shaun Adendorff and Kwagga Smith, while WJ Strydom has been part of the SA Sevens Academy and the Springboks Sevens’ wider training group for some time. The same group will also defend their George 7sPL title on the weekend of December 14 and 15 at Outeniqua Park.

Former Springbok Sevens stalwart Marius Schoeman will manage and coach the team in Dubai and George and he will hope to emulate their successful campaign of last year, when he and Neil Powell coached the Samurai to two memorable tournament titles.

Schoeman said the powerful squad can brace itself for stiff competition in Dubai.

"I know the full international team of Tunisia will play, while Fiji and New Zealand always send strong squads containing fringe players of their national sides," explained Schoeman.

He pointed to a number of current Springbok Sevens players who first got their international break while playing for the Academy in tournaments such as the Dubai invitational.

"Cornal Hendricks is a prime example. A Few seasons ago he played in Dubai and a week later he was called up to the Springbok Sevens to play in PE. Last season he was a stalwart for them and finished the season as top-try scorer for the team.

"Other players who have made the step-up from the SA Academy team to the senior national Sevens team are Cheslin Kolbe, Justin Geduld, Seabelo Senatla and Werner Kok," added Schoeman.

Teams:

South Africa: Chris Dry, Phillip Snyman, Werner Kok, Frankie Horne, Jamba Ulengo, Kyle Brown (captain), Stephan Dippenaar, Branco du Preez, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Cheslin Kolbe, Sampie Mastriet.

SA Academy: Nardus van der Walt, Kwagga Smith, Shaun Adendorff, Rosco Speckman, Siviwe Soyizwapi, WJ Strydom, Mark Richards, Sandile Ngcobo, Jacques Erasmus, Tshotsho Mbovane, Ruwellyn Isbell, Steven Hunt.

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