South African fans of the Springbok Sevens team face an early morning on Friday if they want to see the BlitzBokke open the 2012 Hertz Sevens.
South Africa takes on the USA in the opening match (2am SA time) at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, affectionately known as the ‘Cake Tin.” Their second Pool B match is against the Cook Islands at 4:56am and this will be followed by their possible pool-decider against England at 9:50am.
Kyle Brown will lead a South Africa side that will be aiming for their first tournament title in ten years in New Zealand. The Blitzbokke last won the Kiwi title a decade ago when current coach, Paul Treu, was still playing.
Brown and his team mates will look to turn the tables on their Kiwi hosts who beat them in a thrilling Cup Final at the first SA Sevens to be staged at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in December.
South Africa is currently third on the HSBC Sevens World Series log with 48 points, just three behind joint leaders Fiji and New Zealand. They will again pin their hopes on the dangerous halfback combination of IRB Player of the Year, Cecil Afrika, and Branco du Preez. Brown and veteran Frankie Horne are the two main forward stalwarts.
Stephan Dippenaar will make his debut in the New Zealand capital while Cornal Hendricks will make only his second Bok Sevens tournament appearance following his debut in Port Elizabeth.
The Blitzbokke ahead of their departure for New Zealand (Pic: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)
Following their last-minute victory at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, New Zealand were drawn in Pool A as the top seeds alongside Samoa, Scotland and Japan. All Black wing Hosea Gear has been selected to play for the hosts in the fourth round of the World Series.
Fiji, Wales, Argentina and Tonga are grouped in a very strong Pool C while resurgent France, Australia, Canada and Kenya will battle it out for two Cup qualifying spots in Group D.
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The top of the Series standings:
1. Fiji, New Zealand 51 points; 3. South Africa 48; 4. England 47; France 39
The Springbok Sevens squad for Wellington is:
1. Chris Dry 2. Frankie Horne 3. Boom Prinsloo 4. Cornal Hendricks 5. Kyle Brown (captain)
6. Branco du Preez 7. Bernado Botha 8. Paul Delport 9. Cecil Afrika 10. Steven Hunt
11. Mark Richards 12. Stephan Dippenaar