Bok trio miss Olympic cut

Springboks Bryan Habana, Ryan Kankowski and Francois Hougaard have been left out of the 12-man Blitzboks squad for the Olympic Games in Rio.

The trio all played in at least two tournaments during this season’s World Rugby Sevens Series, and were named in the provisional 19-man Olympic training squad in June.

However, in the end, they failed to make the final cut when coach Neil Powell revealed his official 12-man squad on Thursday, although Hougaard has been named as one of the travelling reserves.

However, Powell has included 14-Test Springbok Juan de Jongh, while Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe is another 15s regular who has cracked the nod, with relative newcomer Tim Agaba also doing enough to book his ticket to Rio.

There are few other real surprises, with the rest of the squad made up of experienced sevens players Dylan Sage, Justin Geduld, Seabelo Senatla, Philip Snyman, Kwagga Smith, Kyle Brown, Rosco Speckman, Cecil Afrika and Werner Kok.

Kok, who was the 2015 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, recently made a timely return from a serious knee injury, and has proven his fitness after featuring at the Assupol Sevens tournament at the beginning of July.

That tournament served as the final Olympics preparation for the Blitzboks, with sevens set to make its debut at the Summer Games from 6-11 August.

'It was really tough finalising the 12-man squad presented to Sascoc,' Powell said. 'I could have picked three different teams and all would have been very competitive, but unfortunately, only 12 can go. We have named Francois Hougaard and Chris Dry as back-up players who will travel to Rio as well, but they will be staying outside the official village.

'I want to thank all 23 players who contributed this year and the final 19 who really worked hard towards a common goal. That said, we are not done yet and will have to work hard in the remaining 20 days or so to fine-tune our play. We are all excited about this as it does not come bigger than the Olympics, but also realise that there will be expectations for us to perform. We can only give our best and hope we can justify the great support we are getting from the public.

'We are not thinking medals, but rather on how to execute in our first match on day one of the tournament. We will focus on what we do well and that will hopefully bring the desired results.'

Blitzboks Olympics squad: Dylan Sage, Tim Agaba, Werner Kok, Cheslin Kolbe, Justin Geduld, Seabelo Senatla, Philip Snyman, Kwagga Smith, Kyle Brown (c), Rosco Speckman, Cecil Afrika, Juan de Jongh.
Travelling reserves: Chris Dry, Francois Hougaard.

Post by

Craig Lewis