Blitzbokke strong for Gold Coast Sevens
South Africa Sevens coach Paul Treu has named a strong squad of 12 to compete at the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series on Australia's Gold Coast, including exciting winger Tshotsho Mbovane and two debutants.
Flanker Reuben Johannes and wing Ruwellyn Isbell are the newcomers and prepare to make their debuts on 13-14 October at Skilled Park, while Mbovane returns for the first time since Hong Kong last year.
Significantly, Treu names several stalwarts who have overcome an assortment of injuries and regained full fitness as they prepare to take on New Zealand, USA and Canada on day one.
Chris Dry, Frankie Horne and Kyle Brown provide power and go-forward upfront, Branco du Preez, Paul Delport and Cecil Afrika will combine for the creative spark and the likes of Mbovane, Cornal Hendricks and Steven Hunt provide proven pace out wide.
The one blow to Treu's plans has been the withdrawal of Bernado Botha, who failed a fitness test after injuring himself at the Middelburg Sevens, and has been replaced by Stephan Dippenaar.
The Blitzbokke enjoyed a strong run-out in Middelburg, getting the better of fellow Series core team and reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens holders Wales in an entertaining final.
“Our aim is to win the World Series," said Treu on naming his side. "We had a disappointing campaign last season but have put that firmly behind us. The team is under no illusion that this is a massive year waiting for us."
Springbok Sevens: Chris Dry, Ruwellyn Isbell, Frankie Horne, Reuben Johannes, Cornal Hendricks, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Paul Delport, Cecil Afrika, Tshotsho Mbovane, Steven Hunt
USA Sevens squad named for Gold Coast
USA men’s national team coach Alex Magleby has also named his squad for the opening round of the Series, including a notable recall for South African-born former captain, Matt Hawkins.
The outstanding Zach Test also returns alongside rapid wing Rocco Mauer, Mike Palefau, Shalom Suniula and Tai Enosa but the rest of the side will be short of experience on the World Series stage.
“The guys have been working hard, are aware of the long road ahead, and are excited to play,” said Magleby. “We are looking forward to building on where we left off at the (RWC Cup Sevens) qualifiers.”
USA Eagles: Peter Dahl, Tai Enosa, Matt Hawkins, Luke Hume, Carlin Isles, Rocco Mauer, Mike Palefau, Shalom Suniula, Mike Teo, Zach Test, Brett Thompson, Maka Unufe