JC Pretorius has been named as the Blitzboks’ reserve player for this weekend’s Vancouver Sevens tournament, switching places with Mfundo Ndhlovu.
Ndhlovu will make his first appearance of the 2019-20 Sevens season after coming in for Pretorius, who is being given a break after a heavy workload.
Pretorius has been impressive in recent tournaments, winning Dream Team selections in both Sydney and Los Angeles, but Powell says the decision taken to rest the energetic forward was done with the best interests of the squad and the player at heart.
‘JC has played in every tournament and has clocked the most minutes of everyone in the squad, so he will be managed a bit this weekend,’ said Powell.
‘As 13th player, you could end up playing in five matches or none, as it happened with Mfundo in Los Angeles. Just as much as JC needs a bit of a break, Mfundo needs some time out on the field having returned from injury, so the swap was actually an easy one to make. Mfundo has trained well and will be very keen to have a go.’
The switch will also change the role of Angelo Davids from last weekend. Davids has started to double up as hooker when not playing on the wing and he will be more involved in the forwards in the Pool A clashes with Japan, Argentina and England on Saturday.
‘We are busy grooming Angelo to become a utility player for us and he will get more game time at hooker for us at the tournament. Despite last weekend’s success, we need to start all over again in our approach and attitude in Vancouver,’ said Powell, adding that the Blitzboks enjoy the sixth stop on the World Series.
‘Vancouver is a happy place for us, having won here last year and personally, I love the city and the people, so we are keen to get going.
‘The challenges will be different from last week and it will be more of a mindset thing. You are always keen to improve when you did not perform well in a previous tournament. But if you won, like we did, the challenge becomes more mental.
‘We need to remain humble after the win and work even harder during the week, and I hope the squad picked that up from us as management.’
Blitzboks squad for Vancouver Sevens – Angelo Davids, Ryan Oosthuizen, Chris Dry, Sako Makata, Werner Kok, Mfundo Ndhlovu, Branco du Preez, Selvyn Davids, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cecil Afrika, Muller du Plessis, Stedman Gans, JC Pretorius (reserve).
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images