The Springbok Sevens’ preparation plans for the next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series have received a boost with the news that Springbok centre JJ Engelbrecht and Junior Springbok fullback Cheslin Kolbe will join the training group from Monday in Stellenbosch. Successful talks between SARU and several provincial unions have paved the way for a number of Currie Cup players to be released for Springbok Sevens training duty. Engelbrecht, a contracted Springbok with 12 Test caps, played for the Blue Bulls in the recent Currie Cup while Kolbe starred for DHL Western Province during their successful campaign.
Three more Vodacom Blue Bulls players, Jesse Kriel, Warrick Gelant and Duncan Matthews (all utility backs), will also assemble at base camp on Monday. They will be joined by Springbok Sevens regulars Justin Geduld (Western Province), Kwagga Smith and Mark Richards (Xerox Golden Lions), who returns to Sevens duties tomorrow having completed their provincial commitments. Rayno Benjamin, a seasoned Springbok Seven and World Series campaigner but nowadays a regular Toyota Free State Cheetahs stalwart, is training with the squad since last week already.
The Dubai Sevens takes place on 5 and 6 December and will be followed by the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth a week later, where the South Africans are the defending champions. On Tuesday Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said the additional players are a welcome boost to his preparation plans, “Our training for the Gold Coast tournament was hampered slightly by niggling injuries and Absa Currie Cup commitments in some cases. But thanks to Rassie Erasmus (SARU GM for High Performance) we could secure the release of these additional players. Cheslin and Rayno know our structures and playing philosophy very well, while I am looking forward to working with the rest of the group.”
Regular captain, Kyle Brown, is continuing with his rehabilitation following a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Phillip Snyman has suffered a calf muscle injury during training yesterday. He is presently undergoing further investigation to determine the extent of the injury and will be treated accordingly.
Stephan Dippenaar has been ruled out of the next two tournaments following a hamstring injury sustained at the Gold Coast. Powell will name his 12-man squad for Dubai and PE at the end of the month. Last month South Africa finished fourth at the season-opening Gold Coast tournament in Australia after going down to Samoa in the semi-finals.