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By SARU Media Unit
SARU has confirmed a squad of 23 Springbok Sevens players who will now start with full preparations at their base in Stellenbosch for the upcoming HSBC Sevens World Series.
Stephan Dippenaar, the Vodacom Blue Bulls centre who was released from his provincial contract and who last week signed a two-year agreement with the Springbok Sevens, is one of four newcomers in the squad. The other three rookies are DHL Western Province U21-hooker Reuben Johannes, Cornal Hendricks (utility back, Regent Boland Cavaliers) and Dirk Dippenaar (wing, Tukkies).
IRB Sevens Player of the Year, Cecil Afrika, is one of five injured players included in the group who will continue with their rehabilitation under the watchful eye of team management. The other injured players are Branco du Preez (ankle), Craig Barry (pelvis), Tshotsho Mbovane (knee) and Pieter Engelbrecht (ankle).
Robert Ebersohn, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs centre and a former contracted SA Sevens player, makes his return to the squad in an agreement between SARU and the Cheetahs, which will see the centre run out for the Blitzbokke in Australia and Dubai.
The Sharks trio of Lubabalo Mtembu, Paul Jordaan and Sibusiso Sithole were included in the squad but they are unfortunately unavailable.
The team got together earlier today in Stellenbosch and coach Paul Treu said he was delighted to have the full squad together again: “It was so great to see all of them together again because quite a few of them were involved in the Absa Currie Cup. You could immediately sense the excitement and energy and we will now work flat out to ensure we are in good condition and well prepared when we depart to Australia on November 18,” explained Treu.
Treu confirmed that that he will name his travelling squad of twelve to the Gold Coast on November 11. The HSBC Sevens World Series starts on 25-26 November in Australia and the teams will then be in action for the following two weeks in Dubai (2-3 December) and South Africa (9-10 December).
The Springbok Sevens training squad is:
Chase Minnaar, Kyle Brown, Frankie Horne, Chris Dry, Neil Powell, Boom Prinsloo, Reuben Johannes (DHL Western Province), Cornal Hendricks (Regent Boland Cavaliers), Dirk Dippenaar (Tukkies), Pieter Engelbrecht.
Paul Delport, Cecil Afrika, Branco du Preez, Steven Hunt, Renfred Dazel, Bernado Botha, Mark Richards, Craig Barry, Tshotsho Mbovane, William Small-Smith, Stephan Dippenaar, MJ Mentz, Robert Ebersohn (Toyota Free State Cheetahs).
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.