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JOHANNESBURG — With two weeks to go before the World Sevens Series resumes for the North American leg, the Blitzboks have good and bad news regarding player availability. Coach Neil Powell always knew he’d be without four players who were making the move to Super Rugby (two more than last year). The bad news is that he’s also without his main drop kicker, Justin Geduld. In a game where success and failure is measured by small margins, Geduld’s accurate conversions have ensured the scoreboard nudges along a further two points more often than not. But he’s out for six weeks with a fractured jaw and will certainly be missed. The good news is that six players injured both before and during the Hamilton tournament should be back for the next tournament in Las Vegas where the Blitzboks are the defending champions. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The Springbok Sevens team will be without playmaker Justin Geduld for the next two tournaments in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, in Las Vegas and Vancouver.
Geduld, who was the leading points’ scorer at the HSBC Sydney Sevens three weeks ago, fractured his jaw the following week in Hamilton and will be out of action for approximately six weeks.
The Blitzboks assembled at their Stellenbosch training base on Wednesday to begin preparations for the Las Vegas and Vancouver tournaments.
Geduld joins a number of players who are not available for the tournaments. Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has also lost the services of Seabelo Senatla, Sikhumbuzo Notshe (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Emirates Lions) and Tim Agaba (Vodacom Bulls) to their Vodacom Super Rugby franchises.
Senatla (150 points, 30 tries) and Geduld (110 points, eight tries and 35 conversions) have been very influential in the points’ scoring stakes. The Springbok Sevens not only top the World Series log, they are also the leading points’ scorers after four rounds of the World Series. The South Africans have scored 654 points (104 tries), with Australia (607) and New Zealand (559) next in line.
“We knew that we were losing those four players to Vodacom Super Rugby, so it is not ideal that we are travelling without Justin too,” said Powell.
“Justin has been in great form this season, and if you add Chris Dry (knee injury), who we have also lost for the season, the depth of our squad will be tested.
“Dylan Sage (concussion), Ruhan Nel (knee), Philip Snyman, Rosko Specman and Muller du Plessis (all hamstring injuries) were all injured before or during the Hamilton tournament, but we are hopeful to have some of them back for this trip. Luckily Siviwe Soyizwapi, who was injured in Cape Town, has been cleared to play again.”
Springbok Sevens also dominate at SA Rugby Awards – TEAM of the Year, coach Neil Powell named Coach of the Year and Rosko Specman named Sevens Player of the Year! @Neil5Powell @speckmagic11 @ASICS_ZA @WorldRugby7s pic.twitter.com/RkkFy2Ssaa
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) February 9, 2018
South Africa will look to defend their title at the HSBC USA Sevens at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, and Powell said his squad will be working hard to secure another positive outcome.
“We also have the Commonwealth Games (14-15 April) on the horizon and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July is on everyone’s radar, so we will be testing our depth in the next couple of weeks,” said Powell.
“We have some exciting players waiting in the wings and we are keen to see some of them perform at this level.”
South Africa will face Wales, Canada and England in Las Vegas, where two matches are played on the first day (2 March), the final pool match and quarter-finals on the second day (3 March), and the semi-finals and finals of the various competitions on day three (4 March).
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