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Uncapped Nel the newcomer in Blitzbok squad for Down Under
- Updated: October 2, 2014
The Springbok Sevens have named uncapped Xerox Golden Lions centre Ruhan Nel in their 12-man squad for the opening tournament of the HSBC Sevens World Series tournament at the Gold Coast, on 11-12 October in Australia.
Nel is one of four changes to the squad that won the Commonwealth Gold medal in Glasgow, Scotland in their last outing in July.
Regular captain Kyle Brown is still recovering from shoulder surgery and will therefore miss the season kick-off at the Gold Coast. Veteran forward Frankie Horne will lead the Springbok Sevens in his 60th consecutive World Series tournament.
Cornal Hendricks and Warren Whitely were not considered as they are on Springbok duty, while Mark Richards has Absa Currie Cup commitments at the Xerox Golden Lions.
Their unavailability paved the way for the return of fit-again regulars Philip Snyman, Stephan Dippenaar and Steven Hunt in the Springbok Sevens squad. Flanker Kwagga Smith will join the squad after the Xerox Golden Lions’ Absa Currie Cup match against the Cell C Sharks on Friday evening.
Speedster Seabelo Senatla and playmaker Justin Geduld have also returned from Absa Currie Cup duty with DHL Western Province. The attacking duo have slotted in with ease at the team’s training sessions in Stellenbosch this week.
The 23-year-old Nel has already represented the Lions in Vodacom Super Rugby and is only the third player to make his Springbok Sevens debut since Neil Powell took over the coaching reigns at the beginning of last season.
With 2016 Olympic qualification looming large for all of the teams this season, Powell said the Springbok Sevens, just the like the 15 other participating teams, will be eager to strive for consistency from the opening tournament.
The top four teams on the final World Series standings will gain automatic entry into the Sevens competition at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. South Africa will face African rivals Kenya, Wales and American Samoa at the Gold Coast.
‘We have worked hard in the past few weeks to get into shape for the Gold Coast,’ explains Powell. ‘Our success in Glasgow will obviously bring added expectations, but we will keep our feet on the ground and continue to work hard to make sure we don’t become complacent,’ added Powell.
The team will practise in Johannesburg before their departure to Australia on Sunday evening.
The Springbok Sevens team to play at the Gold Coast is (SARU contracted unless indicated otherwise, World Series caps in brackets): 1 Chris Dry (37), 2 Philip Snyman (24), 3 Frankie Horne (59, captain), 4 Kwagga Smith (6), 5 Werner Kok (9), 6 Ruhan Nel (debutant, Xerox Golden Lions), 7 Justin Geduld (13), 8 Branco du Preez (32), 9 Stephan Dippenaar (21), 10 Cecil Afrika (30), 11 Steven Hunt (22), 12 Seabelo Senatla (10)