The Springbok Sevens squad for the Hong Kong and Tokyo legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series shows three changes from the group that won the USA title last month in Las Vegas.
The 12-man squad was announced by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Thursday at a media conference at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville, outside Cape Town. The full training squad also took part in a field training session and later handed out autographs to several hundred school children and varsity students.
The players who were part of the title-winning squad in the USA and not travelling to the Far East are Warren Whiteley, Pieter Engelbrecht and Cheslin Kolbe.
Whiteley (MTN Golden Lions) and Kolbe (DHL Western Provinces) returned to their provinces while Engelbrecht was not considered for selection because of the concussion he suffered at the Spar International last weekend in Harare.
Steven Hunt, who returned to action for the SA Elite Player Development squad in Zimbabwe over the weekend, will make his first World Series appearance for the Blitzbokke since the Dubai tournament in December last year. Another fully fit player returning to the line-up is Justin Geduld, who has recovered from a hand injury.
Free State flyer Jamba Ulengo also returns to the squad. He made his debut for the BlitzBokke in the 2011/12 series in Glasgow and London.
Other players not considered because of injury are Kyle Brown (ankle), Cecil Afrika (knee) and Mark Richards (Achilles).
The Hong Kong Sevens takes place over three days from 22 to 24 March and will be followed by the Tokyo Sevens a week later on 30 and 31 March.
Springbok Sevens coach, Paul Treu, expects another thrilling tournament in Hong Kong.
“The World Series is very competitive at the moment and it is very difficult to predict a winner for Hong Kong,” said Treu. “So far this season there have been five different winners for the five rounds of the World Series, which just illustrate the point that Hong Kong will be an extremely difficult challenge.”
South Africa is drawn in Pool A alongside Argentina, Wales and Australia.
The South Africa squad for Hong Kong and Tokyo:
1. Chris Dry
2. Philip Snyman
3. Frankie Horne (captain)
4. Jamba Ulengo
5. Cornal Hendricks
6. Tshotsho Mbovane
7. Branco du Preez
8. Stephan Dippenaar
9. Paul Delport
10. Justin Geduld
11. Seabelo Senatla
12. Steven Hunt
The South Africa pool fixtures in Hong Kong are (SA kick-off times):
Friday 22 March
15h16: SA v Argentina
Saturday, 23 March
07h46: SA v Australia
14h00: SA v Wales