Sako Makata is set to make his Blitzboks debut after being named in the squad for the next two legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series in the USA and Canada next month.
The 20-year-old product of Stirling High represented Border at the U18 Craven Week in 2016, where he was spotted and scouted into the SA Rugby Sevens Academy. He also played for Western Province U19 on the wing in 2017, and represented the Academy in 2018.
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell has also recalled Ryan Oosthuizen and Mfundo Ndhlovu, while Muller du Plessis makes a welcome return to the squad as the reserve after recovering from injury.
There are a total of four changes to the side that placed fifth in Sydney in the previous tournament, as Chris Dry, out with a rib injury, and Kyle Brown sit out the two tournaments. Dewald Human and Zain Davids will remain in Stellenbosch to train with the Academy squad.
Powell said Makata’s debut was bound to come this season.
‘Sako has been with us for the past two years and deserves this opportunity. He has been a real stalwart for the SA Rugby Academy side in that time, co-captaining them to Dubai and South America, and now he gets the opportunity he has been working for very hard.
‘Ryan has worked hard since his last tournament in Cape Town, and Mfundo and Muller are both fit again, so I am very pleased to be able to take both to North America. Mfundo was unlucky to pick up a strain just before we left for New Zealand, and Muller has slotted in well when he returned to the squad last week.’
Powell said the overall focus of the two legs will be on restoring pride through their performances.
‘We are travelling with a younger group, but I have faith in the abilities of every player in the squad. We need to regain our consistency, and we fixed a number of things at training in the past week, so the focus will be on implementing that in our matches against Japan, Chile and England.’
Blitzboks – Ryan Oosthuizen, Philip Snyman, Impi Visser, Sako Makata, Werner Kok, JC Pretorius, Branco du Preez, Selvyn Davids, Justin Geduld, Stedman Gans, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Mfundo Ndhlovu, Muller du Plessis (reserve).
Photo: Melissa Lear Photography