Varsity trio to make international debut for Blitsbokke

2012-05-04 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Three players will make their debut for the Springbok Sevens rugby team at the Glasgow Sevens this weekend following confirmation of the team to play in the penultimate HSBC Sevens World Series tournament of the season.

Ryan Nell (Maties), Jamba Ulengo (Shimlas) and Clayton Blommetjies (Tuks) will all get their first taste of international Sevens for South Africa, while there are also some noticeable returns for the Blitsbokke in Scotland.

Philip Burger, the Free State wing, returns to the team for the first time since the 2006/2007 season, while the versatile Steven Hunt is back in the team after missing the previous two outings in Hong Kong and Japan because of a family bereavement.

Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach, initially included Okkie Kruger in his 12-man tournament squad. However, a troublesome hamstring forced Kruger onto the sidelines, paving the way for Nell’s inclusion.

IRB Player of the Year Cecil Africa and the equally experienced Paul Delport both suffered knee injuries in the Far East and was not considered for selection.

In 2011, South Africa were victorious in the last two tournaments of the season, beating Fiji 24-14 to win the London Sevens and inflicting a heartbreaking 36-35 victory against Australia in the 100th World Series tournament, the 2011 Edinburgh Sevens.

They are currently third on the log (105 points) and just ahead of England (104) and Samoa (101). New Zealand (128) lead the way with Fiji (122) in second spot.

Speaking from Glasgow, Treu said the focus of his reshuffled team will be to keep it as simple as possible. “We’ve made numerous changes so our main aim will be to stick to the basics and to really grab use of our opportunities.”

South Africa face Russia, hosts Scotland and Wales in the pool stages.

“Because of the composition of the squad, it is very important that we concentrate on a good start against Russia. In this respect, I will be looking to the senior, more experienced players to guide the new players during both days,” added Treu.

South Africa pool matches tomorrow

1.30 pm — SA vs Russia

4.04 pm — SA vs Scotland

7.59 pm — SA vs Wales

The Springbok Sevens squad for the Glasgow Sevens

Chris Dry, Ryan Nell, Frankie Horne, Pieter Engelbrecht, Cornal Hendricks, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Jamba Ulengo, Clayton Blommetjies, Philip Burger, Steven Hunt, Stephan Dippenaar. Non-playing reserves: Cheslin Kolbe, Okkie Kruger.

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