Influential Springbok Sevens playmaker Cecil Afrika is on his way home to undergo treatment on his injured right knee and will miss the Japan Sevens in Tokyo this coming weekend.
In one of the two changes to the team that finished third in Hong Kong last weekend, Afrika was replaced by Renfred Dazel who will now play sweeper in Tokyo.
Debut for Dippenaar
Newcomer Dirk Dippenaar will make his South African debut in place of Bernado Botha. The latter is on standby for Paul Delport, who must first pass a fitness test tomorrow.
Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu said his team will their best to capitalise on the positives aspects of their matches against Samoa and England, whom they beat in the quarterfinals and third place play-off respectively in Hong Kong.
“We were clinical against Samoa and against England we did well to shut them out. Our focus will be to maintain that level of intensity and to keep the mental focus. We made the same errors in our two losses against New Zealand, which is hugely frustrating. If we can learn from that and not over-commit ourselves at crucial times, then we will play much better,” said Treu.
He described the performances of Cornal Hendricks (pictured above) and Pieter Engelbrecht as two of the most pleasing aspects of Hong Kong. He hopes they will be able to maintain that level of consistency: “Cornal took a while to settle after his move from the Absa Currie Cup First Division, but he is coming along nicely now. He has a great work ethic, his understanding of the finer detail of Sevens is getting better all the time and he easily had his best tournament last week.
“Pieter struggled for a long time with a leg injury but he showed a lot of commitment and determination in Hong Kong. He adds a bit more physicality to the team and the key for both of them will be to keep their momentum and to be consistent throughout the next two match days.”
Treu described he loss of Afrika as a huge blow, but he is confident his charges will rise to the challenge in Tokyo. “We were able to beat England without Cecil and Paul because the players accepted their extra responsibilities. We need more of the same this weekend,” said Treu.
South Africa, who finished third in Hong Kong, headed the draw in Pool D, where they will face Samoa, Scotland and Portugal.
The Springbok Sevens team for Tokyo is: Chris Dry, Boom Prinsloo, Frankie Horne, Pieter Engelbrecht, Cornal Hendricks, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Dirk Dippenaar, Paul Delport, Renfred Dazel, William Small-Smith, Stephan Dippenaar.
Following Hong Kong, reigning Series champions New Zealand now lead the standings on 111, just two clear of Fiji on 109. South Africa are third on 93, ahead of England (89) and Samoa (82).
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