Former Southern Kings wing Siviwe Soyizwapi will make his Springbok Sevens debut next weekend as the World Rugby Sevens Series moves to the Far East for tournaments in Hong Kong (8-10 April) and Singapore (16-17 April).
The inclusion of the 24 year-old is one of four changes to the side that contested the Cup final at the Canada Sevens in Vancouver earlier this month. The other changes see the inclusion of Ryan Kankowski, Philip Snyman and Stephan Dippenaar.
Kankowski was a late withdrawal from Vancouver (ankle strain) and takes over from Chris Dry, while Snyman replaces Dylan Sage and Soyizwapi comes in for Bryan Habana, who has returned to his club duties for Toulon in France.
Snyman missed the North American leg of the series due to injury, while Dippenaar receives an opportunity to boost his Rio 2016 chances having last played in the London Sevens at the back end of the 2015/16 series. He replaces Rosko Specman, who is rested, along with Dry.
Kyle Brown, who stayed behind behind in Vancouver for medical treatment, will again lead the side in Hong Kong – a venue where the Springbok Sevens will be looking for a first Cup title ever.
The team is currently second on the series log with 105 points, with Fiji (106) leading and New Zealand (104) trailing in a close third position.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell was pleased to name Soyizwapi in the squad and said: “He has been part of our squad for a while now and would have played in Las Vegas and Vancouver, but unfortunately he picked up a groin injury. I am very happy to see him getting his chance now. He has worked hard and he deserves the opportunity to go out and play for his country."
Specman and Dry were both due for a rest as part of the squad’s rotational policy.
“Chris and Rosko have played in all the tournaments so far, so a rest will do them well. We need to get Ryan to play some Sevens, as we only have four tournaments left to see what he has to offer. Stephan is also a squad regular who has recovered from injury. He can cover flyhalf and centre, and he has experience. Philip, meanwhile, is fit again after his shoulder injury and is a vital component in our squad.”
According to Powell, the team is constantly looking to improve, and Hong Kong is no exception.
“Our approach remains the same for each tournament and what we would like to do better going forward is to eliminate the costly 10% from our game, because we played very well 90% of the time in Las Vegas and Vancouver, but then let ourselves down against Australia in Las Vegas and New Zealand in
Vancouver respectively, where we basically lost against ourselves.”
The squad will depart for Hong Kong on Saturday.
Springbok Sevens squad: Ryan Kankowski, Philip Snyman, Tim Agaba, Kwagga Smith, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel
Photo credit: Gallo Images