‘Unfair to have 15s in sevens squad’

Four former players on whether the Blitzboks should pick 15-man players in the lead-up to and at the Olympics.

André Pretorius (former Springbok flyhalf and Blitzbok)

'It's an ongoing debate, but I feel there are 15-man players more than capable of successfully switching to the shorter format. If they have the required skills, fit into the coach's plans and can add value to the team, I can't see why any player should not be selected. In the end it's about what is good for the team.'

Adrian Jacobs (former Springbok centre)

'I don't see the need to include 15-man players in the sevens squad. It's unfair to the ones who chose to play sevens exclusively to now be shunt out by guys who opted to move away from the shorter format. Just because other countries selected multi-talented 15-man players ahead of the Olympics, doesn't mean we should too. Look, the Blitzboks team management have made their decision, but I think the inclusion of guys like Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard and all the other accomplished 15-man players is unfair.'

Braam van Straaten (former Springbok flyhalf)

'If they are good enough, 15-man players should definitely be picked. If you look at the 15-man players Neil Powell named in the training squad, you'll see they are some of the best defenders in the country, but also guys who can beat any direct opponent in a one-on-one situation. The biggest challenge for them will be fitness, because sevens rugby is played at a much higher tempo than the 80-minute game. But overall, I'm extremely happy with Neil's selection of some of the most unbelievably talented players we have, regardless of which format they normally play. I feel sorry for the sevens players who will miss out on selection for the Olympics, but the 15-man players will strengthen the Blitzboks.'

Gaffie du Toit (former Springbok flyhalf and Blitzbok)

'The unique situation with the Olympics justifies their selection. But what I'm most happy about is that no sevens player will be disadvantaged by this move. We're still a year away from the Olympic games, so everyone will have a fair chance to stake a claim in the final 12-man squad next year. Just because all those 15-man players have been invited to join the Blitzboks, doesn't necessarily mean it's a given that they'll travel to the Olympics. Everyone must prove themselves in the forthcoming World Series and I think the competition within the squad is good.'

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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