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Depth will be tested in Las Vegas


SA are in a pool with Wales, Canada and England in Las Vegas. New Zealand will face Scotland, Argentina and Uruguay in their pool

FLIGHTWORTHY: Philip Snyman of South Africa has recovered from his hamstring injury and in ready to help the Blitzboks soar in Las Vegas. Picture: BackpagePix

It’s a measure of the depth South Africa has built around its Sevens side that they are confident of defending their HSBC World Sevens title in Las Vegas during the weekend’s three-day tournament.

South Africa lead the world series after four rounds with 77 points while New Zealand are second on 69 points with Fiji third on 62 points.

Philip Snyman, who missed the Hamilton leg with a hamstring injury, has recovered and will lead the side; one of four players in the side who have appeared in more than 50 tournaments.

Kyle Brown (62), Branco du Preez (58) and Cecil Afrika (57) are the others.

Coach Neil Powell said after the side landed in Las Vegas: “We had some luck in the past and I’m not sure why we tend to be so successful here, but that means nothing this time around.”

Certainly, the travel doesn’t always help. The Blitzbok side had to fly from Cape Town to London where they had a nine-hour stopover and then flew to Las Vegas, a trip of around 32 hours.

Three newcomers to Las Vegas will be included in the South African side – Ryan Oosthuizen, Selvyn Davids and 18-year-old Muller du Plessis, who was slated to debut in Hamilton only to succumb to a training injury before the tournament began.

“Generally we have a pretty experienced squad. Although Ryan, Selvyn and Muller are new to Vegas, they are not new to the system, so it should not be an issue,” he said.

Missing from the side is playmaker Justin Geduld. He broke his jaw in the Hamilton leg of the series and will be out for six weeks.

The side is also down on players who have returned to Super Rugby including Stormers Seabelo Senatla, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Lion Kwagga Smith and Bull Tim Agaba.

“We knew that we were losing those four players, so it is not ideal that we are travelling without Justin too,” Powell said. “We have some exciting players waiting in the wings and we are keen to see some of them perform at this level.”

Like all the Commonwealth sides, the Las Vegas and Vancouver legs are the last chance to make assessments before the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast on April 14-15. And after that, there is the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July.

SA are in a pool with Wales, Canada and England in Las Vegas. New Zealand will face Scotland, Argentina and Uruguay in their pool.


Blitzbok squad

Ryan Oosthuizen, Philip Snyman, Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Muller du Plessis, Selvyn Davids, Cecil Afrika, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Stedman Gans, Ruhan Nel.