Fit-again Springbok Sevens skipper Kyle Brown will lead an interesting mix of players to the Rome Sevens tournament at the URC Stadium this weekend.
Brown has recovered from ankle surgery and a subsequent knee strain and will lead a team with a number of former Springbok Sevens regulars, now part of national coach Paul Treu’s final training squad for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow later this month.
Treu is using this tournament as a final trial to settle on his 12-man combination for the Russian showpiece.
Former Springbok and Sharks no 8, Ryan Kankowski, Toyota Cheetahs utility player Ryno Benjamin, Vodacom Bulls ace Sampie Mastriet, Sharks powerhouse Sibusiso Sithole and Rovigo points machine Stefan Basson all return to the team where they first represented their country.
Former Junior Springbok star Shaun Adendorff and current Vodacom Cup Player of the Year, Hansie Graaff, are also included along with two contracted squad members, Ruwellyn Isbell and Mark Richards, also following Brown’s recovery route from injury.
Isbell last played in Port Elizabeth in December, Brown a week earlier in Dubai and Richards did not see any action at all during the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series.
WJ Strydom, who debuted in the Springbok Sevens tournament win in Glasgow last month, and Werner Kok who did so a week later in London, are the only players who represented South Africa in the HSBC series in 2013.
“Results are not our primary focus in Rome,” Treu said on Monday. “What will be important for us to achieve this week is to get these players sevens-ready again, as many of them have not played competitive sevens for a while, despite their impressive fifteens performances. It is also important for players such as Kyle, Ruwellyn and Mark to prove that they have fully recovered from injury.”
Amongst the 16 teams participating are the French, Italian and Polish national teams.
The squad returns to South Africa on Monday and the final World Cup squad will be announced on 20 June.
The remainder of the contracted Springbok Sevens squad are continuing their preparations in Stellenbosch.
The team to travel to the Roma Sevens is:
1. Ruwellyn Isbell
2. Shaun Adendorff
3. Ryno Benjamin
4. Ryan Kankowski
5. Kyle Brown
6. Stefan Basson
7. Sibusiso Sithole
8. WJ Strydom
9. Hansie Graaff
10. Sampie Mastriet
11. Werner Kok
12. Mark Richards