Bookies back Blitzboks to leave NZ victors

Cape Town - The South African Sevens team will get back to winning ways at this weekend's World Rugby Sevens Series stop in Hamilton, New Zealand, if bookmakers are to be believed...

The fourth stop on the 10-tournament 2017/18 Sevens series has a new home in New Zealand, having moved from Wellington.

Neil Powell's Blitzboks, who are the New Zealand sevens defending champions, currently top the standings, having won the opening round in Dubai, before finishing third in Cape Town and as runners-up last weekend in Sydney.

The Blitzboks look to have a straight-forward Pool B, having been drawn alongside England, Russia and Papua New Guinea.

On paper the Blitzboks should have little trouble progressing to the knockout stages as England are currently sixth in the standings, while Russia lie a lowly 15th out of the 17 teams to have scored points to date and Papua New Guinea are stone last.

Should the Blitzboks as expected top their pool, they will face the runners-up in Pool C in the Cup quarter-finals.

Pool C consists of Argentina, New Zealand, France and Scotland.

The Blitzboks will have to overcome a couple of key injuries should they wish to lift the trophy with skipper Philip Snyman and Ruhan Nel both sidelined for this weekend.

Leading SA bookies have installed the Blitzboks as 5/4 favourites for the title, followed by hosts New Zealand (13/4), Fiji (19/4) and last weekend's impressive victors, Australia (7/1).

Revised Blitzboks squad:

Tim Agaba, Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Stedman Gans, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Werner Kok, Kwagga Smith

SA schedule on Saturday, February 3 (SA times):

SA v Papua New Guinea - 01:06

SA v Russia - 04:32

SA v England - 08:06

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