JC Pretorius will make his Blitzboks debut at the Sydney Sevens this weekend.
The 21-year-old travelled with the squad to Australasia as the official reserve, but coach Neil Powell has promoted him to the starting squad at the expense of veteran Kyle Brown.
Pretorius, who played flank for SA Schools, will be used as a hooker in the Blitzbok set-up.
‘Getting the chance to contribute to the Blitzboks and to represent my country makes me extremely grateful and blessed. I cannot wait for the tournament to start. I have always been a hard worker and I hope to bring that work rate and energy to the team this weekend,’ said Pretorius, who celebrated his 21st birthday earlier in the week,
Powell hinted that the decision to go with Pretorius ahead of Brown was not taken lightly, but that it had to be made in order to give the youngster some experience on the World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.
‘It is all part of our plan to give the younger players more opportunities as we are expanding the depth and experience in our squad,’ said Powell.
‘Senior guys in the team, such as Kyle and Philip Snyman, will not be around forever and JC needs this opportunity to develop,’ Powell added. ‘If we named him 13th player again and we had no injuries, it would have been an opportunity wasted to give him the exposure and experience of tournament play.’
Brown was due to move past Frankie Horne as South Africa’s most experienced Blitzbok ever, as both have played 68 times in the Sevens Series.
‘We realised that and it did make the selection a tough and unfortunate one, but we must do what is best for the team. Kyle could still get that chance as he is the official reserve and will be on the field if we pick up any injuries,’ explained Powell.
The Blitzboks finished fourth at last weekend’s Hamilton Sevens and Powell has challenged his team to produce a better performance in Sydney.
‘We got our roles on defence mixed up and the one-on-one tackles were not good. To concede 13 tries on the second day was just not good enough. We have gone through tournaments where we did not even concede that much on both days combined. We worked hard to fix that.’
Photo: David van der Sandt