Paul Delport will make his long awaited return to action this weekend in Harare where he will play for the SA Sevens Academy in an international event in the Zimbabwean capital. The veteran Springbok Sevens sweeper sustained a serious knee injury at the 2013 Tokyo Sevens and the resultant surgery has kept on him on the sidelines for almost a year.
Delport has however now completed his lengthy rehabilitation programme and regained full fitness, resulting in his selection for the Zimbabwe Sevens.
Deport and his SA Academy team mates are one of eight squads to play in Harare. The Zimbabwe Sevens organisers have managed to assemble a strong and exciting line-up of teams for the two-day event.
Apart from the South African line-up and the hosts, the likes of Russia, Hong Kong as well as Georgia have entered full strength international squads in preparation for the important Hong Kong Sevens tournament at the end of the month. Hong Kong have gained extra significance this year, offering teams the chance to challenge for World Series core status in the run-up to next season’s all-important 2016 Olympic qualification process.
Delport, Kwagga Smith, Mark Richards, Tshotsho Mbovane, WJ Strydom, Steven Hunt and Jamba Ulengo are full Springbok Sevens internationals who will travel with Academy coach Marius Schoeman to Harare.
The rest of the squad consist of a mixture of promising Academy players, such as Nardus van der Walt (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Josh Bassingthwaighte (DHL WP), Jacques Erasmus (Wits) and Lungelo Gosa.
Schoeman and his charges will aim to land their fourth successive title after winning Cup finals in Dubai, Punte del Este and George in the past four months.
Shaun Adendorf, Duhanvan der Merwe and Dewald Niemand were not considered because of injury while Warrick Gelant is unavailable because of Varsity Cup commitments.
The Academy and the Springbok Sevens squads played a training match on Wednesday in Stellenbosch as both sets of players completed preparations for their forthcoming tournaments.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, will travel to Harare on Saturday morning to watch the South Africans in action. The Harare tournament will offer contenders for the Bok Sevens a final opportunity to impress Powell before he finalises his squad on Sunday for the next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
The Springbok Sevens squad of 12 travels flies out early on Monday morning to the Far East.
The SA Sevens Academy squad to play in the Zimbabwe Sevens:
1. Ruan Mostert (DHL Western Province)
2. Kwagga Smith*
3. Nardus van der Walt (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
4. Josh Bassingthwaighte (DHL WP)
5. WJ Strydom*
6. Mark Richards*
7. Steven Hunt*
8. Tshotsho Mbovane*
9. Jamba Ulengo*
10. Paul Delport*
11. Jacques Erasmus (Wits)
12. Lungelo Gosa*
(* Springbok Sevens or Academy contracted unless indicated).