Veteran hard man Frankie Horne omitted
JUAN de Jongh and Francois Hougaard have more than 330 first-class caps between them, as well as 49 full Springbok test caps, but their sevens experience is almost non-existent. The pair were yesterday named in the Blitz Boks’ 12-man squad for the opening two tournaments of the 2015-16 Sevens World Series in Dubai and Cape Town.
Hougaard, 27, has never been capped at this level, while De Jongh, also 27, has appeared once for South Africa at sevens level.
But with the Olympics looming next year, coach Neil Powell is determined to find the best possible 12 players in a bid for gold, and it starts in Dubai next week.
Hougaard and De Jongh will at least be surrounded by a core of experienced sevens players in Dubai.
Captain Kyle Brown has 48 World Series appearances to his credit and Cecil Afrika 38.
Flyer Seabelo Senatla, last year’s leading try scorer, is in the mix as is world sevens player of the year Werner Kok.
But there was no room for veteran hard man Frankie Horne, who played 68 consecutive tournaments. His omission was a sign of how cut-throat selection is going to be this season.
“The players worked very hard and the competitiveness among the group made this my toughest selection job yet,” Powell said.
“I am confident that the squad we are taking to Dubai and Cape Town will give a good account of themselves.
“This is the most important sevens season ever, with the bigger World Series set to be even tougher than last season.
“I think teams will want to position themselves for next year’s Olympic Games, meaning there will be little room for error,” Powell said.
For Dubai, South Africa are grouped in Pool B alongside Scotland, Samoa and newly promoted core team Russia. Chris Dry (44), Philip Snyman (30), Francois Hougaard (0), Kwagga Smith (15), Werner Kok (18), Kyle Brown (48 – capt), Cheslin Kolbe (8), Ryno Benjamin (29), Justin Geduld (18), Cecil Afrika (38), Seabelo Senatla (19), Juan de Jongh (1)