Blitzbok squad named for important Far East trip
Springbok Sevens coach Sandile Ngcobo included three uncapped players in the Blitzbok squad for the next two tournaments on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, with Donovan Don, Ethan James and Sebastiaan Jobb in line for their first taste of international sevens rugby in the next fortnight.
The Blitzboks will depart for next weekend's Cathay / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on Sunday, and a week later they will be in action in the HSBC Singapore Sevens.
Don and James – who joined the sevens programme at the start of the year but had been struggling with injuries – both played for the Junior Springboks last year, while Jobb is back in the national sevens set-up after playing for the South Africa 'A' Sevens team a few seasons ago.
Furthermore, two players who missed the recent trip to North America, Shaun Williams and Tiaan Pretorius, are back in the squad after recovering from injuries that have kept them on the sidelines.
Williams was injured before the Blitzboks departed for the USA, while Pretorius has not featured at all so far in the 2022/23 World Series.
Travis Ismaiel, who was injured on debut in Los Angeles and missed the Vancouver leg of the World Series, is also back in the squad, but Ngcobo is still without the services of key playmakers in Selvyn Davids, Ronald Brown, Dewald Human, Justin Geduld and Jaiden Baron.
“I believe we have selected the strongest possible squad for this very important trip to Hong Kong and Singapore, and I'm very excited to see what the three new players can do in a tournament situation,” said Ngcobo.
“We took some valuable lessons on board after returning from North America, but we've now put Los Angeles and Vancouver behind us, and we're excited about travelling to the Far East.
“Our main goal for the season is still to finish in the top four and while it presents us with an exciting challenge, we believe in our players and know they will display some proper fighting spirit next weekend.
“As a squad, we know what we need to do to achieve what we set out to at the start of the season last October, and we now have an opportunity to do just that.”
The Cathay / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens kicks off on Friday, 31 March, when the Blitzboks will play their first pool match, against Ireland at 09h04 (SA time).
The other two pool games are on Saturday, 1 April, against New Zealand (05h04 SA time) and Kenya (09h25 SA time), followed by the playoffs on Sunday, 2 April.
The HSBC Singapore Sevens will be played the following weekend, on 8 and 9 April.
Springbok Sevens squad (with World Series stats):
Ryan Oosthuizen – 39 tournaments, 188 matches (185 points, 37 tries)
Impi Visser – 28 tournaments, 146 matches (135 points, 27 tries)
Zain Davids – 39 tournaments, 198 matches (180 points, 36 tries)
Siviwe Soyizwapi (captain) – 47 tournaments, 244 matches (735 points, 147 tries)
Mfundo Ndhlovu – 13 tournaments, 60 matches (65 points, 13 tries)
Christie Grobbelaar – 14 tournaments, 71 matches (110 points, 22 tries)
Shaun Williams – 9 tournaments, 46 matches (113 points, 17 tries, 14 conversions)
Travis Ismaiel – 1 tournament, 5 matches (5 points, 1 try)
Ricardo Duarttee – 6 tournaments, 34 matches (156 points, 13 tries, 44 conversions, 1 penalty goal)
Tiaan Pretorius – 3 tournaments, 10 matches (5 points, 1 try)
Ethan James – uncapped
Sebastiaan Jobb – uncapped
Donovan Don – uncapped