The welcomed return of a seasoned Springbok Sevens campaigner was offset by the news that the Blitzboks will be without captain Siviwe Soyizwapi for the whole of the upcoming Sevens Series.
It was officially confirmed on Tuesday that energetic talisman and playmaker Rosko Specman will be returning to the Springbok Sevens setup on a short-term deal.
However, while the Blitzboks will again boast a ‘Speckies’ in their ranks, there will not be a ‘Shakes’ as their vastly experienced captain Siviwe Soyizwapi will not only miss the Olympic Games qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe next month, but also the forthcoming SVNS series due to a serious knee injury.
Soyizwapi injured his knee in a warm-up match last weekend and has already undergone an operation. The unlucky wing now faces the long road of recovery that will hopefully see him back on the field in nine months’ time.
For Springbok Sevens coach Sandile Ngcobo, the news of Specman’s return was good, but the reality of Soyizwapi’s injury not.
Ngcobo will also have to cut his current training squad to 14 players on Friday, as the fine-tuning for the Rugby Africa Sevens Olympic Qualifier will start in all earnest next week.
“It is really sad for Siviwe, he is such an incredible leader in the team and his record on the world stage speaks for itself,” said Ngcobo.
“There is not much you can do about injuries, as they are part and parcel of rugby and our focus for him will be to make sure his recovery and rehab goes as smoothly as possible.”
The return of Specman comes at an appropriate time in that regard: “Rosko is a senior player and those in the squad have a lot of respect for him and what he can add, so to have him back is great.
“His abilities are well-known, and it is clear from my conversations with him that is he is very keen to contribute to the system again. He brings energy, game-breaking capabilities, and experience to the squad, so we are happy to have him back, especially in light of losing the experience of ‘Shakes’ for the season.”
Ngcobo said the preparations for the Zimbabwe tournament have been going well.
“We worked hard thus far, this is a massive tournament for us and the focus from the players is spot-on,” he said. “It is a nice headache to have now when we need to trim the squad, but it was up to the players to show us why they should be in the final group. We analysed our warm-up games properly and I am happy with the effort from those who will be in the final group.”
The Rugby Africa tournament in Harare will take place on 16 and 17 September.