With several regulars missing through injury, Springbok Sevens coach, Paul Treu, will be hoping that his reshuffled squad will be able to go all the way at the Wellington Sevens, which starts early on Friday morning (SA time) in the New Zealand capital.
Regular captain Kyle Brown is out for the rest of the season with a broken ankle while influential playmakers Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez, as well versatile outside back Stephen Hunt have not travelled with the squad for rounds 4 and 5 of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Wellington and Las Vegas (next weekend), due to an assortment of injuries.
Veteran forward Frankie Horne will lead the team in his SA record-breaking 45th consecutive World Series tournament for the Springboks Sevens, while Treu will also turn to seasoned internationals such as Chris Dry and Paul Delport to provide the leadership for an otherwise young group of players.
The absence of several injured stalwarts have meanwhile opened the door for two more youngsters, Justin Geduld and Seabelo Senatla, to make their HSBC Sevens World Series debuts for South Africa.
The two 19-year olds are the most recent additions to the contracted group of Springbok Sevens players. The two of them and Cheslin Kolbe are also part of the current South Africa Under-20 training squad.
Speaking from Wellington, Treu said on Wednesday his squad has settled in nicely and prepared well since their arrival in New Zealand, despite a heat wave that has gripped the NZ capital for the past few days.
“The youngsters offer us a lot of options and they bring a different kind of energy, so from that aspect I am very pleased,” explained Treu.
He also hinted that the Springbok Sevens will stick to their attacking game plan, which so far has yielded the most number of tries amongst all the World Series competitors.
“We have worked hard on creating opportunities and our tries tally so far this season is proof of that. We have scored more tries and conceded less than the teams that are above us on the log, but the difference between us and the frontrunners at the moment is that they have managed to win those crucial matches on day two when it mattered.
“Our team has spoken a lot of those small margins for error and if we can manage to keep our focus throughout and keep on creating opportunities, then we will be a threat here (in Wellington) and Las Vegas,” added Treu.
The Springbok Sevens (who finished third at the Gold Coast and in Port Elizabeth) currently occupies fourth place on the World Series Standings with 41 points, 19 behind leaders New Zealand and three behind third-placed Fiji.
As top-seeds in Pool C, the South Africans will get their tournament underway on Friday morning against powerful Samoa, one of the crowd-favourites in NZ, to be followed by matches against Canada and Wales.
The SA squad for the Wellington Sevens:
1. Chris Dry
2. Philip Snyman
3. Frankie Horne (captain)
4. Warren Whiteley
5. Cornal Hendricks
6. Pieter Engelbrecht
7. Stephan Dippenaar
8. Justin Geduld*
9. Paul Delport
10. Cheslin Kolbe
11. Tshotsho Mbovane
12. Seabelo Senatla*
SA match schedule on Friday morning (SA times, all matches live on SuperSport):
02:44: SA v Samoa
05:40: SA v Canada
10:12: SA v Wales