Renfred Dazel, the experienced Springbok Sevens sweeper, has withdrawn from the team and his place will be filled by the Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 player Branco du Preez.
Dazel missed the season opening IRB Sevens World Series tournaments in Dubai and George late last year after undergoing minor knee surgery. However, after making the fans happy with his return to the Wellington and Las Vegas squad, his troublesome knee flared up again during training earlier this week.
The 19-year old Du Preez, who is equally at home at flyhalf and centre, is the fourth uncapped player called by up BlitzBokke coach, Paul Treu, for the next two IRB tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.
All the newcomers received their Springbok Sevens colours at a capping ceremony in Newlands yesterday. The team leaves for New Zealand on Saturday via Johannesburg and Sydney. The other newcomers in the team are Philip van der Walt, Hoffman Maritz and Steven Hunt.
Treu said the Wellington and Las Vegas tournaments offer great opportunities for the youngsters to impress in the absence of the team’s regulars.
“We trained very hard in Stellenbosch and youngsters added a lot of enthusiasm and new energy to our team environment. It is unfortunate that we have to travel to New Zealand and the USA without so many regulars, but these tournaments present the youngsters with an opportunity to step up to a new level.
“They impressed me during the warm-up tournaments in Sri Lanka and Argentina, but the Series tournaments are obviously much tougher and more demanding,” said Treu.
The squad end their local preparation this morning with the customary captain’s run in Stellenbosch.
Finally, the BlitzBokke can never be accused of not being motivated enough prior to tournaments because coach Treu is well-known for calling on experienced motivational speakers from the worlds of sport and business to speak to his charges. Later on Thursday, the squad will attend a talk by Ernst van Dyk, South Africa’s Paralympic medallist and a multiple winner of the Boston wheelchair marathon.