The Blitzboks have bid farewell to Juan de Jongh, Cheslin Kolbe and Rayno Benjamin, while welcoming Ryan Kankowski and Hoffman Maritz into their training group.
De Jongh, Kolbe and Benjamin joined the Springbok Sevens squad at the beginning of the season as part of an agreement between Saru and the local franchises, but they will now return to their Super Rugby sides. The Cape duo of De Jongh and Kolbe have featured in all four World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments so far this season, while a calf injury restricted Benjamin’s appearances to just two events.
The trio, as well as some other local franchise stars, are expected to join the Springbok Sevens group again at the end of the series for an Olympic Games training camp. Coach Neil Powell is using a rotation system to rest some of his players, and at the same time integrate some 15s players in an effort to increase the depth of the squad for the Olympics in August.
Kankowski and Pumas utility back Maritz have now joined the Springbok Sevens training squad in Stellenbosch. Kankowski played in 20 Tests for the Springboks between 2007 and 2012, but last year signed a sevens contract following the completion of his club rugby commitments in Japan. Maritz, who can play centre and fullback, is no stranger to sevens and he made all six of his appearances on the Sevens Series circuit in 2010.
'Juan, Cheslin and Rayno made a huge impact during their time with us,' Powell said. 'Juan, who had not been part of our system previously, did especially well since joining us a couple of months ago. Juan did very well to adjust to our culture and our systems in such a short time. You could see that he improved in every tournament, he is a quality player and he made a valuable contribution.'
After last weekend's Sydney Sevens, the players will now take a short break before returning to camp on Monday to start preparations for the next two tournaments on the Sevens Series circuit, in Las Vegas and Vancouver.
Meanwhile, stand-in skipper Philip Snyman underwent scans to determine the extent of his shoulder injury, while Justin Geduld will be out of action for up to three weeks because of his shoulder niggle.
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