Kok in Blitzboks squad, Horne out

Werner Kok has been included in coach Neil Powell's preliminary 19-man Olympic training squad.

Kok returns to the Blitzboks fold for the first time since December when he suffered serious knee ligament damage at the Dubai tournament. There was, however, no place for sevens stalwart Frankie Horne in the extended training squad.

Powell included four players with Springbok Test experience in Ryan Kankowski, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard and Bryan Habana, who are all forfeiting immediate 15s ambitions in an attempt to make the final touring party. 

The Blitzboks players will start their preparations on Friday with a team-building exercise in Stellenbosch and Caledon and begin on-field training on Monday. The squad will be cut down to 12 next month. Habana, though, is still involved with Toulon and will join the squad as soon his commitments there are served.

'Bryan is keen to be part of the group, but understands that his initial absence could count against him when I make my final selection. I accept his contractual commitments, but also recognise his willingness to contest and contribute to the final squad, whether he makes it or not,' confirmed Powell.

The coach admitted that it was difficult to reduce the team and it will be even harder to trim the squad to 12 in July.

'I feel for those who did not make the squad, but was impressed by their support to the rest of the guys. One of our core values is to support each other and I am proud to say it was again executed by those who did not make it. The next two months are very important to us. We need to train with purpose and make sure we are ready come 9 August,' said Powell.

'We have a good mix of sevens and 15s players and will play in one warm-up tournament early in July before we jet off to the Olympics.'

Preliminary Olympics Springbok Sevens squad: Tim Agaba, Chris Dry, Ryan Kankowski, Kwagga Smith, Kyle Brown, Philip Snyman, Dylan Sage, Cheslin Kolbe, Rosco Speckman, Branco du Preez, Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld, Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh, Werner Kok, Ruhan Nel, Seabelo Senatla, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Bryan Habana.

Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

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