Richards replaces Afrika
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:10
It's a welcome bonus for us
Versatile back Mark Richards has replaced Cecil Afrika in the South African team for the penultimate round of the IRB Sevens World Series.
The World Series head to Glasgow, Scotland, next week.
Afrika was not considered for the 12-man BlitzBokke squad because he is still completing his rehabilitation at Stellenbosch, following the groin strain he suffered in Hong Kong.
Depending on his progress, he might be considered for selection should the need arise to call up a player for the London leg the following week.
Richards last played for the national Sevens team during Round One of the World Series at the Gold Coast in Australia.
There was also good news for the team.
Chris Dry, an ever-present figure in the front row the past few seasons - alongside veteran Frankie Horne and captain Kyle Brown - was cleared to play after initial fears that he might miss the last two tournaments because of a lower back injury.
Dry was given the go ahead to play after he was examined by no less than three specialists and completing his functionality tests without discomfort.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, was happy with the preparation of his squad and especially the availability of Dry.
"Chris is a quality player and has shown great form for this season, so it's a welcome bonus for us that he is available to play," said Powell.
The coach added: "Mark really put up his hand during our training camp of the past two weeks and deserves his chance. He has experience of playing at this level and is eager to grab his chance."
South Africa suffered their first Cup quarterfinal exit of the season in Hong Kong against Australia.
Injury robbed the team of several players on the last day of that tournament, but they still displayed great character and a huge fighting spirit to win the Plate Final against Wales.
Prior to their Hong Kong Cup exit, the Springbok Sevens were in excellent form and appeared in five consecutive Cup Finals. They are currently seven points behind log leaders New Zealand.
Skipper Brown (blow to the head) and Philip Snyman (sore neck) were included after shaking off their respective niggles.
South Africa play Portugal, Samoa and New Zealand in the pool stages.
They travel to Glasgow on Monday.
South Africa: Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Frankie Horne, Jamba Ulengo, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Mark Richards, Albertus Smith, Seabelo Senatla.
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