Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has named four uncapped players in the 13-man squad to travel to Canada this weekend for tournaments in Vancouver and Edmonton later this month.
Ronald Brown, Darren Adonis and Shaun Williams will all make a first World Rugby Sevens Series trip with the Blitzboks, while Christie Grobbelaar is in line to make his first appearance for South Africa, although he has travelled with the team before – to Dubai in 2019 as 13th player.
Brown represented South Africa at the recent Olympic Games in Japan, but will now don the Springbok Sevens jersey for the first time at the tournaments to be played at BC Place in Vancouver on 18-19 September, and one week later, in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on 25-26 September.
Adonis, a former Currie Cup winner with the Cheetahs in 2019, has played for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in the sevens tournament in Kenya, while Williams, who represented the Lions at junior level while a student at University of Johannesburg, will make a first international appearance since joining the SA Rugby Sevens Academy last year.
As was the case in Tokyo, the 12 countries competing will be allowed to use all 13 players available in their squads during the tournament.
Regular Springbok Sevens skipper Siviwe Soyizwapi will board the plane as the most experienced player in the squad, having played in 30 tournaments, while Powell included a number of World Series regulars.
One of them, Ryan Oosthuizen, returns after injury ruled him out of Olympic Games contention, and Dewald Human is back having last played at the Paris Sevens in 2019.
Sako Makata, Zain Davids, Angelo Davids, JC Pretorius, Soyizwapi and Brown all took part in Tokyo where South African placed fifth.
Olympians Branco du Preez, Selvyn Davids and Justin Geduld were not considered due to injury, while Chris Dry has announced his retirement from international sevens. Stedman Gans and Kurt-Lee Arendse have rejoined the Bulls since returning from Tokyo while Ruhan Nel linked up with the Stormers.
Powell welcomed the energy the new recruits will bring and said their inclusions are well deserved.
“We do have a number of players unavailable, but the debutants have been knocking on the door while playing for the academy side in various invitational tournaments around the world and Ronald even forced his way into the Olympic squad,” said Powell.
“This is their opportunity to show they are ready to become World Series regulars and I have a lot of confidence in their abilities.”
Powell said the injuries to Davids, Geduld and Du Preez were setbacks, but the positive is the opportunities it has created for the debutants.
“Another plus is the fact that we are back playing in the World Series again,” Powell added.
“It has been quite a while since that last tournament in Vancouver in 2020 and it does feel like some normality coming back, traveling to Canada and playing again.
“It is a pity that Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, Australia and Argentina are not able to travel to Canada, but I believe this will still be a very competitive tournament. The fact that there will be crowds will also boost the players.”
The pools and match schedules will be announced by World Rugby during the weekend.
Blitzboks: Christie Grobbelaar, Ryan Oosthuizen, Sako Makata, Zain Davids, Angelo Davids, JC Pretorius, Ronald Brown, Shaun Williams, Darren Adonis, Dewald Human, Siviwe Soyizwapi (c), Muller du Plessis, James Murphy.