Prolific try scorer Seabelo Senatla returns to the Springbok Sevens squad for the next two tournaments of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Tokyo and Hong Kong, but playmaker Cecil Africa will miss the trip to the Far East because of a troublesome hamstring.
Steven Hunt replaces Afrika, while Senatla comes in for Sampie Mastriet, who is on Vodacom Super Rugby duty with the Vodacom Bulls, for the two changes to the 12-man squad that lost to New Zealand in the Wellington Cup Final last month.
Senatla was the leading try scorer with six tries in Las Vegas where the Springbok Sevens managed to win their second USA title in a row. An ankle injury forced him to miss the Wellington Sevens event two week later in the New Zealand capital.
Hunt last played for the Springbok Sevens in December, when they won the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament and was a stand-out player for the SARU Sevens Academy team that won the Zimbabwe International Sevens in Harare this past weekend.
The Tokyo tournament takes place on March 22 and 23 and will be followed by the three-day Hong Kong event a week later.
The South Africans, winners of three World Series tournaments this season, will be aiming to successfully defend their tournament title.
South Africa, who departed Cape Town on Monday morning on route to Japan, head Pool B at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground in Tokyo and have drawn matches against Argentina, Kenya and the hosts, Japan.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, said the team will be aiming to maintain their good level of consistency which has so far seen them reach the semi-final of each of the previous five tournaments and secured them three Cup final wins.
“The boys have trained really well for these two tournaments and we are leaving some very good players behind,” explained Powell.
He added: “The good competition for places in the squad is motivating the guys not to only play better in tournaments, but also to do just that in each of our training sessions. You start each tournament from scratch, the pool stages are always tough and there will be no room for complacency.”
With just four more rounds to play, New Zealand are leading the World Series standings on 99 points and they are closely followed by South Africa who are two points adrift.
Springbok Sevens squad for Japan and Hong Kong:
1. Chris Dry
2. Philip Snyman
3. Frankie Horne
4. Kwagga Smith
5. Werner Kok
6. Kyle Brown (c)
7. Branco du Preez
8. Stephan Dippenaar
9. Justin Geduld
10. Jamba Ulengo
11. Steven Hunt
12. Seabelo Senatla