Afrika, Dippenaar fills BlitzBoks void

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:30
Large cecil afrika south africa v australia 800

SEVENS: Cecil Afrika and Stephan Dippenaar have been brought into the South African Sevens squad to fill the void left by Seabelo Senatla and Albertus Smith for the upcoming legs in Las Vegas and Vancouver.

Senatla, who became the leading try scorer in the Wellington leg of the Series, has joined up with the Stormers for the Super Rugby campaign while Smith links up with the Lions for the same competition.

Afrika is the BlitzBoks' all-time leading points scorer with 1167 career points but missed the Australasian legs due to a knee strain. Dippenaar was a late replacement in Sydney for Werner Kok, who has also recovered from the calf strain and will travel to Las Vegas.

BlitzBok coach, Neil Powell, said he was lucky to have experienced campaigners Afrika and Dippenaar back.

"We knew that the time would come for us to play without Seabelo [Senatla] and Kwagga [Albertus Smith] and that time is now. The fact that we have two proven players to slot in is indeed a bonus.

"Cecil has scored over a 1000 points in the Series and Stephan has been part of squads that won the Las Vegas tournament in the past, so I am pretty pleased," Powell said.

Powell added debutant Stedman Gans to his squad, with the former Junior Springbok and SA Schools back travelling as the official reserve, as per World Rugby agreement. Gans played for the Sevens Academy in Dubai in December and has been training with the national team since November last year.

"We have to build some depth and experience in the group and Stedman has proved in training that he is ready to play at this level. Zain Davids showed in Wellington and Sydney that our systems are in place and this will be a good learning curve for Stedman, no doubt," Powell added.

The squad will again be captained by Philip Snyman and according to the 41-tournament veteran, the experience of Afrika and Dippenaar will help him.

"Cecil was playing great rugby in Dubai and Cape Town and Dippies [Dippenaar] has been part of winning tournaments in the past, so it is great to have them around. Both are strong leaders in their own right and will help me in that regard as well.

"We all know what our roles are and if we execute that, we will be very competitive," Snyman said.

The Las Vegas Sevens will be played in the Sam Boyd Stadium from March 3-5, and the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver will host the Canada Sevens on March 11-12.

The BlitzBoks top the overall standings following three wins in four tournaments and will be keen to extend their lead in Las Vegas, a venue where they have won three times since 2010, when the USA leg of the series was moved to Nevada.

Springbok Sevens squad: Chris Dry, Philip Snyman (captain), Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Werner Kok, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Rosco Speckman, Ruhan Nel, Stedman Gans (reserve).

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