Blitzbokke lose captain Brown


Coach Neil Powell said after the squad was announced in Stellenbosch on Wednesday afternoon that Brown and fellow Sevens star Cecil Afrika are not being risked due to minor injuries.

The experienced Philip Snyman will take over the captaincy for the first time, while Sandile Ngcobo will make his senior debut, having come through the SA Sevens Academy system under the watch of coach Paul Delport.

The Wellington, New Zealand leg of the series takes place on January 30-31, and Sydney a week later on February 6-7.

Brown is battling with the shoulder problem caused by a previous operation, where screws were inserted, while Afrika is still feeling a few niggles from the hamstring injury that cut short his Dubai tournament in early December and ruled him out of the Cape Town Sevens.

“Kyle and Cecil still have a few niggles, so instead of taking a chance with them for Wellington and Sydney, we are holding them back for the next two tournaments in Las Vegas and Vancouver,” Powell said on Wednesday.

“Philip is an experienced campaigner and will captain the side, while we have enough leaders in the squad such as Juan de Jongh and Rayno Benjamin.”

Ngcobo is one of two changes to the squad that were triumphant in the Cape Town Sevens in December, as he will replace Brown, while Carel du Preez comes in for Dylan Sage in the 12-man group.

The 26-year-old Ngcobo, who is a centre/wing, first emerged on the provincial scene with the Falcons in 2012, before signing for the SA Sevens Academy side following a stint with Griquas in the Currie Cup last year.

“We are building towards the Olympics Games in Rio (in August), so it is important that we perform well in the World Series. These two tournaments will offer us another opportunity to rotate some players and introduce a new one. Stix (Ngcobo) has been knocking on the door for a while now and I know he is excited and very keen to play on the World Series circuit,” Powell said.

Stormers players Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe have been included for both the Wellington and Sydney events, and are expected to return to their Super Rugby franchise after returning from Australia.

Seabelo Senatla is contracted to the Springbok Sevens squad, and won’t be available to the Stormers until the end of the World Sevens Series in late May.

The Blitzbokke are the top seeds for the Wellington tournament following their victory at the Cape Town Stadium, and they will face hosts New Zealand, who have included Sonny Bill Williams in their squad, as well as Scotland and Russia in Pool A at the Westpac Stadium. They will leave their Stellenbosch base on Saturday for New Zealand.


Springbok Sevens Squad (number of tournaments in brackets)

Philip Snyman (32, captain), Chris Dry (46), Carel du Preez (3), Kwagga Smith (17), Sandile Ngcobo (0), Francois Hougaard (2), Cheslin Kolbe (10), Rayno Benjamin (31), Justin Geduld (20), Rosko Specman (7), Seabelo Senatla (21), Juan de Jongh (3).

Original source: Blitzbokke lose captain Brown