Coach Paul Treu has included two new caps in his 12-man Springbok Sevens squad for round one of the HSBC Sevens World Series at the Gold Coast on 13 and 14 October in Australia.
Reuben Johannes (flanker, newly SA contracted) and Ruwellyn Isbell (wing, Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-19) are the newcomers and set to make their SA debuts at the Gold Coast Sevens.
Good news for the Blitzbokke is that several of their stalwarts who struggled with an assortment of injuries towards the end of last season, are fit and were selected for the season-opener.
Bernado Botha, however, has failed a fitness test after injuring himself at the Middelburg Sevens and is replaced by Stephan Dippenaar. The team will again be led by hooker Kyle Brown.
There is also a welcome return to the squad for winger Tshotsho Mbovane, who last played for the Blitzbokke in Australia and Hong Kong last year.
In Middelburg, the Blitzbokke got the better of current Sevens Rugby World Cup holders Wales in an entertaining final.
Speaking to media at the team announcement in Pretoria today, Treu said his team was looking forward to a very important season.
“Our aim is to win the World Series. We had a disappointing campaign last season but have put that firmly behind us. The team is under no illusion that this is a massive year waiting for us,” said Treu.
Russia will host the Sevens Rugby World Cup in Moscow next June, and Treu reckons that a good showing in the World Series will lay the foundation for a huge Sevens RWC challenge.
The team depart on Saturday to Australia from Johannesburg. A new addition to the management team is Ashley Evert, who is taking over the Team Manager duties from long-serving Sebastian Prim, who is now the SARU High Performance Sevens Manager.
The Springbok Sevens squad for round one of the HSBC Sevens World Series at the Gold Coast is:
1. Chris Dry
2. Ruwellyn Isbell
3. Frankie Horne
4. Reuben Johannes
5. Cornal Hendricks
6. Kyle Brown (captain)
7. Branco du Preez
8. Stephan Dippenaar
9. Paul Delport
The 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series calendar:
Australia, Gold Coast - 13 & 14 Oct 2012
UAE, Dubai - 30 Nov & 01 Dec 2012
South Africa, Port Elizabeth - 08 & 09 Dec 2012
New Zealand, Wellington - 01 & 02 Feb 2013
USA, Las Vegas - 08, 09 & 10 Feb 2013
China, Hong Kong - 22, 23 &24 Mar 2013
Japan, Tokyo - 30 & 31 Mar 2013
Scotland, Glasgow - 04 & 05 May 2013
England, London – 11 & 12 May 2013