Exciting Blue Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant will make his debut for South Africa at the Dubai HSBC World Sevens Series in December after being named in coach Neil Powell’s 12-man squad on Thursday for Round 2 of the International Sevens extravaganza. The tournament will be hosted at the Sevens Rugby Stadium on December 5 and 6. Cheslin Kolbe and Rayno Benjamin, two former regular Springbok Sevens stalwarts, meanwhile will make their return to the Blitzbokke squad after starring for their provincial unions this past season.
There is also a welcome return for regular skipper Kyle Brown, who has overcome his shoulder troubles. Powell, who coached the Springbok Sevens to second place in the Series last season and to a Commonwealth gold medal in June, said it was a tough job to select only 12 players for Dubai and Port Elizabeth. “We had 24 players in our training group and all of them could have been selected for the final squad. This was most probably the toughest selection to date for me because the players really played their part during training,” said Powell.
Of Brown’s return, Powell said, “I am glad that we have Kyle back. A shoulder operation prevented him from playing at the Gold Coast. He is a good leader and an experienced player, and he will boost our forwards.” Kolbe and Seabelo Senatla were both standout players for the Absa Currie Cup champions Western Province in the premier domestic competition. Senatla was also a member of the Springbok squad on their European tour in the last few weeks.
However, he was released last weekend to join the Blitzbokke in their final preparations before departing for Dubai on Sunday. Benjamin represented South Africa in 25 World Series tournaments before opting to concentrate fulltime on the 15-man code with the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. “They (Kolbe and Senatla) are both very exciting players with great game-breaking abilities. Our squad has worked extremely hard the past few weeks and we all realise we have to improve a lot on our performance at the Gold Coast,” explained Powell.
The players who participated in the Gold Coast but missed out on selection for Dubai and PE are Chris Dry, Steven Hunt, Stephan Dippenaar and Justin Geduld. Dippenaar and Geduld were not considered due to injuries. The Springbok Sevens will face Wales, Portugal and Canada in Pool D.
The Springbok Sevens team to play in Dubai (World Series caps in brackets):
- Ruhan Nel (1)
- Philip Snyman (25)
- Frankie Horne (60)
- Kwagga Smith (7)
- Werner Kok (10)
- Kyle Brown (40, captain)
- Branco du Preez (33)
- Rayno Benjamin (25)
- Warrick Gelant (0)
- Cecil Afrika (31)
- Seabelo Senatla (11)
- Cheslin Kolbe (6)