Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman and the experienced Ruhan Nel have returned to South Africa following injuries sustained at the HSBC Sydney Sevens tournament last weekend.
Snyman, who played in his 50th tournament for the Blitzboks, injured his hamstring and Nel his knee. They will be replaced this weekend by SA Rugby Sevens Academy products Zain Davids and Muller du Plessis, who are departing for New Zealand on Monday for the HSBC Hamilton Sevens, the fourth tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Davids, who played in six tournaments for the Blitzboks in the 2016/17 season, replaces Snyman, while Du Plessis will be the reserve player for the tournament. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who travelled to Australia as the replacement player, took over from Nel on the final day of the Sydney Sevens.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said losing experienced players such as Snyman and Nel was a setback, but that they can’t dwell on the negatives. Kyle Brown takes over the captaincy.
Davids made his debut for South Africa a year ago in New Zealand and then played in Sydney, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Hong Kong and Singapore, before joining the Junior Springboks for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia.
Du Plessis represented the SA Schools team in 2016 and 2017 and had his first taste with the Academy side earlier this month.
“Zain will slot in at tighthead in a straight swop with Philip,” said Powell.
“He played in those two SA Rugby Sevens Academy tournament victories in South America at the beginning of the month and did really well. He will also be very keen to become a permanent fixture in the team, so we are looking for some positive performances from him.
“Muller can learn and even play when called upon. He only finished school last year and is highly rated, having played SA Schools and for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in South America recently. He is very talented and has a bright future and I think he will become a very good addition to our squad. The sooner we expose him to this level of play, the better.”
The South African team arrived in Hamilton on Monday. They face Papua New Guinea, Russia and England in Pool B of the tournament that starts on Saturday at the FMG Waikato Stadium.