Dylan Sage and Stedman Gans have been recalled to the Springbok Sevens squad for the next two tournaments in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, in Sydney, Australia next weekend and in Hamilton, New Zealand a week later.
Sage missed the tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town due to a back injury. Gans, who last played for the Blitzboks in Singapore last season, after making his debut at the 2017 HSBC Las Vegas tournament, was part of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy team that won the Sudamericarugby 7s tournaments in Uruguay and Chile in the last fortnight.
Sage, a regular starter in the 2016/17 season, replaces Chris Dry and Gans comes in for Branco du Preez. Dry picked up a season-ending knee injury at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens and Du Preez injured a hamstring in training last week.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell also included DHL Stormers loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe as the replacement player to travel with the team. Notshe, who joined the squad in October, will return to Vodacom Super Rugby upon his return, as will three other squad regulars, Tim Agaba (Vodacom Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Emirates Lions) and Seabelo Senatla (DHL Stormers).
“We made the call to take Sikhumbuzo along as reserve player in order for him to get first-hand experience of what a World Series tournament is all about and he will be called upon if anyone picks up an injury,” explained Powell.“Dylan has been training solidly over the last couple of weeks, while Stedman was in very good form for the Academy side in South America, so I am expecting solid contributions from them next weekend.
“We are losing four players to their Vodacom Super Rugby teams after the Hamilton tournament, so we need a strong tour in order to stay in contention for the overall title.”
The Blitzboks are currently second after New Zealand on the overall World Series log. They are the defending champions in Sydney and will face Papua New Guinea, Spain and England in Pool C of the tournament, which starts on Friday, 26 January.
Philip Snyman, who will be playing in his 50th World Series tournament for the Blitzboks, will again lead the side. They depart for Sydney on Saturday.
The Springbok Sevens team for the HSBC Sydney Sevens:
1. Tim Agaba (12 tournaments, 61 matches, 50 points, 10 tries)
2. Philip Snyman (captain – 49 tournaments, 219 matches, 58 tries, 321 points)
3. Dylan Sage (17 tournaments, 93 matches, 100 points, 20 tries)
4. Kwagga Smith (29 tournaments, 147 matches, 300 points, 60 tries)
5. Werner Kok (31 tournaments, 163 matches, 365 points, 73 tries)
6. Kyle Brown (60 tournaments, 297 matches, 400 points, 80 tries)
7. Stedman Gans (4 tournaments, 11 matches, 5 points, 1 try)
8. Rosko Specman (23 tournaments, 123 matches, 288 points, 52 tries)
9. Justin Geduld (32 tournaments, 164 matches, 699 points, 77 tries)
10. Cecil Afrika (55 tournaments, 285 matches, 1335 points, 160 tries)
11. Seabelo Senatla (35 tournaments, 179 matches, 1015 points, 203 tries)
12. Ruhan Nel (23 tournaments, 115 matches, 202 points, 40 tries)
13. Sikhumbuzo Notshe (0, 0)*
• Cecil Afrika is South Africa’s all-time leading points’ scorer in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with 1355 points.
• Seabelo Senatla is the all-time leading try-scorer for the Blitzboks with 203 tries.