South Africa Sevens coach Paul Treu has made two changes to his squad for the Dubai Sevens tournament this weekend.
Branco du Preez and William Small-Smith replace Cecil Afrika and Steven Hunt for round two of the World Series.
Afrika, the IRB and SARU Sevens player of the year, was not considered for selection after he sustained a rib injury last week in Australia.
Du Preez - a versatile attacking player who is also strong on defence - is now fully recovered from a niggling ankle injury, which has limited his training time during pre-season preparations.
Small-Smith is one of five former schoolboy stars who made their international Sevens debut last season for the Blitzbokke and in Dubai he will play only his third tournament after his debut in London last season.
South Africa is currently third on the World Series log after winning their third-place play-off match last week at the Gold Coast against hosts Australia.
“Cecil is still suffering from some discomfort after he received a blow to the ribs on day one in Australia, so we will not risk him unnecessarily because the season has only started and we have a long way to go. Branco now has a bit more training time behind him and so he will start in place of Cecil,” said Treu.
“William gets his chance in place of Steven Hunt because we want to arrive in Port Elizabeth next week with the knowledge that we’ve given every squad member a chance to play. Three opening tournaments in a row poses a tough challenge in terms of managing the players, so we will have to be sensible in our approach,” he explained.
In turning his attention to the Group B rivals his Blitzbokke will face in Dubai, Treu reiterated the fact that there will be no easy games.
“Portugal is improving all the time and last season they caused some notable upsets, while the USA made it really difficult for us last week and I have no doubt they will be very motivated when we face each again. New Zealand will be determined to strike back after losing to Fiji in the Gold Coast final,” said Treu.
SA Sevens squad for Dubai: Chris Dry, Chase Minnaar, Frankie Horne, Boom Prinsloo, Robert Ebersohn, Kyle Brown (captain), Renfred Dazel, Bernado Botha, Paul Delport, Branco du Preez, Mark Richards, William Small-Smith.
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