Injuries to several key players have forced Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu to make three changes to his squad for the forthcoming HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in New Zealand and the USA.
The Wellington Sevens tournament takes place on 1-2 February in the New Zealand capital and will be followed by the Las Vegas event a week later.
Regular captain, Kyle Brown (ankle), playmaker Cecil Afrika (knee), Branco du Preez (hamstring), Steven Hunt (ankle) and Ruwellyn Isbell (soft tissue neck injury) are all unavailable because of injury.
Those vacancies have now opened the door to, amongst others, the two 19-year old debutants in Justin Geduld and Seabelo Senatla. The promising pair, also currently part of the SA Under-20 training squad, both recently signed two-year contracts with SARU to play for the Springbok Sevens.
Pieter Engelbrecht was furthermore preferred over Bernado Botha, who was part of the squad in Port Elizabeth at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens.
Treu said his youthful looking squad is looking forward to the Wellington Sevens challenge.
“The New Zealand tournament is most probably the toughest test of the entire World Series,” explained Treu.
“The host country, along with Fiji and Samoa, always get massive support from the crowd, which makes it extremely difficult for the other teams.
“We will have three 19-year olds – Geduld, Senatla and Cheslin Kolbe – in our travelling squad, so from that perspective it is very exciting and I am delighted for the youngsters. However, they could not have asked for a more daunting challenge, and it will be up to them to prove themselves against strong opposition.”
The Blitzbokke are the top seeds in Pool C and will compete against Wales, Samoa and Canada for one of two qualifying spots on offer for the Cup quarterfinals. They leave for New Zealand on Friday.
The Springbok Sevens squad to Wellington and Las Vegas:
Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Pieter Engelbrecht, Frankie Horne (captain), Warren Whiteley, Cornal Hendricks, Justin Geduld, Stephan Dippenaar, Paul Delport, Cheslin Kolbe, Tshotsho Mbovane, Seabelo Senatla.
Paul Treu (coach), Vuyo Zangqa (assistant-coach), Ashley Evert (team manager), Hugh Everson (physiotherapist), Allan Temple-Jones (biokineticist).