I know quite a few people who will be well pleased that coach Paul Treu has decided to rest Cecil Afrika for round two of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai this weekend.Treu explained his decision as follows:
“Cecil is still suffering from some discomfort after he received a blow to the ribs on day one in Australia, so we will not risk him unnecessarily because the season has only started and we have a long way to go. Branco now has a bit more training time behind him and so he will start in place of Cecil,” said Treu.
Afrika, the IRB and SARU Sevens Player of the Year, was not considered for selection after he sustained a rib injury last week in Australia.
Branco du Preez will come in for Afrika while William Small-Smith (pictured below) replaces Steven Hunt.
Du Preez is now fully recovered from a niggling ankle injury, which has limited his training time during pre-season preparations. The scrumhalf is a versatile attacking player and is also strong on defence.
Small-Smith is one of five former schoolboy stars who made their international Sevens debut last season for the Blitzbokke and in Dubai he will play only his third Series tournament after his debut in London last season.
Treu added “William gets his chance in place of Steven Hunt because we want to arrive in Port Elizabeth next week with the knowledge that we’ve given every squad member a chance to play. Three tournaments in a row poses a tough challenge in terms of managing the players, so we will have to be sensible in our approach.”
In turning his attention to the Group B rivals his Blitzbokke will face in Dubai, Treu reiterated the fact that there will be no easy games.
“Portugal is improving all the time and last season they caused some notable upsets, while the USA made it really difficult for us last week and I have no doubt they will by very motivated when we face each again. New Zealand will be determined to strike back after losing to Fiji in the Gold Coast final,” said Treu.
The South African squad for round two of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai:
1. Chris Dry 2. Chase Minnaar 3. Frankie Horne 4. Boom Prinsloo 5. Robert Ebersohn 6. Kyle Brown (captain) 7. Renfred Dazel 8. Bernado Botha 9. Paul Delport 10. Branco du Preez 11. Mark Richards 12. William Small-Smith
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