Branco du Preez, left, and Rosko Specman. Picture: ISAAC BREKKEN/GETTY IMAGES/AFP
Branco du Preez, left, and Rosko Specman. Picture: ISAAC BREKKEN/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

Sizzling stepper Branco du Preez will miss the Australasian leg of the 2017-18 World Sevens Series after suffering a hamstring strain in training.

It is a blow for the Blitzboks‚ who head into the third leg of the 10-tournament series in Sydney two points behind New Zealand at the top of the standings.

The same squad will travel to Hamilton in New Zealand for the fourth round.

Stedman Gans‚ who played for the Blitzboks on their way to last season’s World Series title‚ will replace Du Preez.

Gans, who was in good form for the academy team that won two tournaments in South America over the past two weeks, is a like-for-like replacement for Du Preez.

Fit-again forward Dylan Sage replaces forward Chris Dry‚ who suffered a season-ending knee injury at December’s Cape Town sevens‚ in the only other change to the squad.

Stormers flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ who has yet to earn a full Springbok sevens cap‚ will travel with the South African squad as reserve.

Notshe‚ who joined the squad in October‚ will return to Super Rugby when he gets back, as will three other squad regulars‚ Tim Agaba (Bulls)‚ Kwagga Smith (Lions) and Seabelo Senatla (Stormers).

"We made the call to take Sikhumbuzo along as reserve player in order for him to get first-hand experience of what a World Series tournament is all about and he will be called upon if anyone picks up an injury‚" coach Neil Powell said.

"Dylan has been training solidly over the last couple of weeks‚ while Stedman was in very good form for the academy side in South America‚ so I am expecting solid contributions from them next weekend.

"We are losing four players to their Super Rugby teams after the Hamilton tournament‚ so we need a strong tour in order to stay in contention for the overall title," he said.

Philip Snyman‚ who will be playing in his 50th World Series tournament for the Blitzboks‚ will again lead the side. They depart for Sydney on Saturday.