Springbok Sevens veteran Renfred Dazel was today named as replacement for the injured Paul Delport in the Blitzbokke’s only change for the USA Sevens in Las Vegas.
The three day tournament is the fifth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series and gets underway early on Saturday morning (SA time).
Delport returned home two days ago after he injured his cheekbone in the team’s Plate Final victory over Tonga in Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday.
Fortunately for the South Africans, Dazel is the ideal replacement for Delport, a former skipper of the Springbok Sevens.
Rennie Dazel with Mark Richards in Las Vegas this week (Pic: Springboks on Facebook)
The 30-year-old Dazel has played in 35 Series tournaments and was an established star for the Blitzbokke before a series of knee injuries cruelly interrupted his season midway through 2011. He has since fought back to regain his fitness, with Branco du Preez and Delport establishing themselves as first choice scrumhalves.
Dazel said he was delighted to be back in the tournament squad of 12 players, and promised to make the most of this opportunity. “My role is to support my team mates, using my experience to the best of my ability and to provide the necessary energy.”
Improvement on defense
Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach, said his team has worked hard on rectifying some errors which crept into their game in Wellington. He mentioned that he would especially like to see an improvement on defense.
“We lost three line-outs against Fiji which gave them so much more opportunity to run at us. Although our defensive alignment was good for most part of the New Zealand tournament – especially on the first day – we did concede some line-breaks which hurt us. Stopping the soft tries will be paramount for us. In Wellington we conceded five tries without any phase play and we cannot allow the opposition to cross our line without effort,” explained Treu.
There were also some areas which pleased the coach: “Our kick-offs went well and Kyle (Brown), Boom (Prinsloo) and Frankie (Horne) almost had a 50% turnover. The efficiency of our attacking play was especially pleasing because most of our tries were scored within two phases, which is a good strike rate.”
Overall, the team is very positive and looking forward to a good tournament. “The guys are upbeat about our chances. We are playing good rugby, but need to close the games when it matters most. For now, our focus is on our first match against Uruguay and it is vital that we spread our energy over the three days,” added Treu.
Referring to the inclusion of Dazel, Treu said: “Renfred is one of our most experienced players and will have no problem slotting in.”
The Blitzbokke open their title defense at 03:06am on Saturday against Uruguay in the Sam Boyd Stadium. There two remaining pool matches are Wales (06:02am) and France (23:50pm). All matches will be shown live on SuperSport.
The Springbok Sevens team for Las Vegas is:
1. Chris Dry 2. Stephan Dippenaar 3. Frankie Horne 4. Boom Prinsloo 5. Cornal Hendricks 6. Kyle Brown (captain) 7. Branco du Preez 8. Bernado Botha 9. Renfred Dazel 10. Cecil Afrika 11. Steven Hunt 12. Mark Richards
In Sevens, possession is king
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