Paul Treu named a 14-man Springbok Sevens squad for the next two World Series legs in Wellington and Las Vegas on Tuesday.
The 2011-12 Sevens World Series resumes on 3-4 February with the New Zealand leg in Wellington, followed by the USA leg in Las Vegas on 10-12 February. It’s an important stage of the competition, with the top five teams still in contention for the overall title – making it one of the most open World Series races in several seasons. Fiji and defending champions New Zealand currently share first place on 51 points, South Africa are third on 48, while England (47) and France (39) trail closely behind in fourth and fifth place respectfully.
The Blitzboks come off a second-place finish at the PE Sevens last December, where they disappointingly lost 31-26 to New Zealand in the Cup final after conceding a try in the final play of the match. After Saru general manager Andy Marinos announced the team, head coach Treu said his players have overcome the heartbreak of PE and are geared up for the next two tournaments.
‘Yes, PE was a huge disappointment. But the guys have arrived back here in Stellenbosch with a positive attitude and we now set our sights on Wellington and Las Vegas,’ Treu told keo.co.za. ‘We will be travelling with a 14-man squad, which provides us with the necessary injury cover. It’s the biggest squad we’ve been able to take overseas.
‘We have also trained very hard this past week and a half at our new base at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sports, which has been a big step up for our preparations. There are world-class facilities here, which has really motivated the guys.’
A notable selection in the squad is the inclusion of former Bulls centre Stephan Dippenaar, who has received his first senior SA Sevens call-up. Dippenaar signed a two-year sevens contract late last year after leaving Pretoria and is now set to make his national debut in Wellington.
‘I’m very excited,’ Dippenaar also told this site. ‘I was disappointed to suffer a serious ankle injury at the beginning of the season, but I’ve worked very hard during my recovery. I got my first taste of international sevens with the academy squad in Uruguay earlier this month and really enjoyed it.
‘I’m expecting a big step up over the next three weeks. But I believe I’ll be able to do well for the team. All the guys are raring to go.’
Springbok Sevens squad for Wellington and Las Vegas: Kyle Brown (c), Chris Dry, Chase Minnaar, Frankie Horne, Boom Prinsloo, Cornal Hendricks, Branco du Preez, Paul Delport, Cecil Afrika, Steven Hunt, Mark Richards, Renfred Dazel, Bernado Botha, Stephan Dippenaar.
By Gareth Duncan, in Stellenbosch