Cape Town — The Blitzboks have been rocked by the injury-enforced withdrawal of star playmaker Dewald Human for this weekend’s Cape Town Sevens.
Human sustained a groin injury during last week’s Dubai Sevens event in the semi-final against New Zealand, which saw him ruled out of the final against Ireland — which the South Africans won 21-5.
Youngster Masande Mtshali replaced Human for the final, and retained his spot for the Cape Town Stadium tournament, while other newcomers such as Ricardo Duarttee and Shilton van Wyk shone in a memorable performance.
The South Africans recovered from losing to Great Britain in their opener to beat Kenya and Australia in their pool fixtures, before seeing off Samoa and New Zealand in the Cup quarter-final and semi-final respectively.
Springbok Sevens coach Sandile Ngcobo has called up Darren Adonis, who was part of the playing squad at last month’s Hong Kong Sevens.
“Darren has trained with us before we left for Dubai and then played there as well as part of the Samurai (SA Sevens ‘A’ team) in the invitational tournament. I managed to watch those games and he did very well, so I am happy to have him,” Ngcobo said on Wednesday.
“He covers flyhalf and centre and he kicks with both feet, so he brings a versatility element to the squad as well. Darren is experienced enough to slot in immediately, and has done very well.”
The Blitzboks will be brimming with confidence after their Dubai triumph, but will have to deal with the pressure of an expectant home crowd this weekend, having last won the Cape Town Sevens in the 2015/16 season.
They begin their campaign on home soil against Canada on Friday night at 8.03pm, with the remaining Pool A games against Fiji (11.19am) and France (5pm) on Saturday.
The Cup quarter-finals will also take place on Saturday night, with the semi-finals and final on Sunday.
“We have two identities — one on the field and one off the field. In the latter, it is about being a brotherhood, caring for each other and driving a shared culture. We are nailing that one, so that drives us forward very well,” Ngcobo said.
“The on-field identity is defence, we do not want people to score tries against us and if they do, they need to work really hard for it. We want to be dominant in defence and that attitude will not change this weekend.”
Ryan Oosthuizen, Impi Visser, Zain Davids, James Murphy, JC Pretorius, Masande Mtshali, Siviwe Soyizwapi (capt), Branco du Preez, Darren Adonis, Shilton van Wyk, Dalvon Blood, Muller du Plessis, Ricardo Duarttee.
Blitzboks Pool A Fixtures
Friday: Canada 8.03pm
Saturday: Fiji 11.19am, France 5pm
* Meanwhile, 15s star Nadine Roos will captain the Springbok Women’s Sevens team this weekend, where they will face Australia, Ireland and Spain.
Springbok Women’s Sevens Squad
Rights Mkhari, Asisipho Plaatjies, Kemisetso Baloyi, Jakkie Cilliers, Marlize de Bruin, Felicia Jacobs, Anacadia Minnaar, Aseza Hele, Nadine Roos (capt), Snenhlanhla Shozi, Simamkele Namba, Liske Lategan, Lusanda Dumke.
SA Women’s Fixtures
Friday: Australia 1.50pm, Ireland 6.37pm
Saturday: Spain 1.25pm