Three Blitzboks stalwarts to miss Sevens World Cup in the US due to injury
Seabelo Senatla‚ Cecil Afrika and Kyle Brown are out, with coach Neil Powell saying ‘the next couple of weeks will be about player management’
Blitzboks stalwarts Seabelo Senatla‚ Cecil Afrika and Kyle Brown will miss the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco next month after injury ruled the trio out.
It is a huge blow for coach Neil Powell and the squad‚ who were hoping Afrika (hamstring) and Senatla (groin)‚ might recover in time. Brown‚ who had a severe knee injury‚ was never in with a chance of making it.
Another experienced campaigner‚ Chris Dry‚ will also miss the World Cup because of a knee injury.
Senatla is SA’s all time leading try-scorer with 224 in his 203-match World Seven Series career. Afrika is SA’s all-time leading points-scorer on the annual circuit‚ having amassed 1,430 points in 318 matches. It’s fair to say both will be severely missed while the physicality of Brown and Dry cannot easily be replaced.
Powell kick-started the final preparations for the American showpiece in Stellenbosch with a training camp‚ consisting of 15 players‚ including current captain Philip Snyman. The coach‚ who also played at the World Cup in 2009‚ will name a 12-man squad and two reserve players in the week before the team departs to San Francisco on July 14.
Snyman represented SA at the 2009 World Cup in Dubai and again in 2013‚ in Moscow. On both occasions‚ SA were eliminated in the Cup quarterfinals.
Another 2013 squad member‚ Branco du Preez‚ has been included, despite recent injury concerns. "We used 28 players during the World Series for this specific reason‚" said Powell. "With three major tournaments in one season [the Commonwealth Games were played in April]‚ we realised that player welfare and management would be key for us to be successful in those events. That policy paid off‚ I believe‚ as we still have a very competent squad‚ despite the loss of a number of star players.
"The next couple of weeks will be about player management. We will have to fine-tune some aspects of our game‚ but I am pretty happy with the way we finished the series‚ playing in both finals in London and Paris and, of course, winning in France‚ despite having three players out and replaced between the two tournaments."
The Blitzboks will move base to Johannesburg next week‚ with a number of training sessions and warm-up matches against the Golden Lions 7s team on the agenda. They will return to Cape Town on Friday June 29 and will have a final camp in Mossel Bay from July 7 to 12, before departing for the US.
Blitzboks World Cup Sevens training squad: Philip Snyman, Heino Bezuidenhout, Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Ryan Oosthuizen, James Murphy, Werner Kok, Dewald Human, Rosko Specman, Branco du Preez, Justin Geduld, Selvyn Davids, Ruhan Nel, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Mfundo Ndhlovu.