Former Bulls centre Stephan Dippenaar will make his Springbok Sevens debut in Wellington this weekend after he was named in in the Blitzbokke team for the New Zealand Sevens tournament.
Coach Paul Treu cut his squad down from the intial 14 to 12 with Dippenaar replacing Chase Minnaar while Renfred Dazel is the other non-playing member of the South African squad.
An ankle injury ruled Dippenaar out of contention for the Nelson Mandela Bay SA Sevens in December. However, his impressive display for the newly established SA Sevens Academy team in Punta del Este earlier this month, propelled him back into contention for a place in the Springbok Sevens squad and his versatility means that the team can use him either as a mobile forward or a strong runner from centre or wing.
The Sevens World Series resumes on 3 and 4 February in the New Zealand capital after a new-look opening leg of three tournaments towards the end of 2011 in Australia, Dubai and South Africa respectively. Following the stopover in Wellington, which is regarded as one of the most popular Series destinations, the Blitzbokke will then defend their USA title in Las Vegas from 10 to 12 February.
South Africa are currently third on the Series log, three points behind joint leaders Fiji and New Zealand, who have 51 points each. Just one point separates South Africa and England in the standings after three exciting tournaments.
The Blitzbokke last won the New Zealand title ten years ago, when current coach, Paul Treu, was still playing for the SA Sevens team. Treu described the New Zealand event as one of the most difficult challenges of the season.
"We came very close to winning our own tournament last December in Port Elizabeth and are fully aware that we will have to play even better here in Wellington. New Zealand is a demanding challenge for any rugby team, but we back ourselves to be in contention on Saturday," said Treu.
He added newcomer Dippenaar should have no problem fitting into the team.
"He has been with us for a while now and is familiar with our structures and work ethic. His versatility means he can slot into a few positions, which increases our tactical options," he said.
South Africa's Pool B opponents are England, Wales and the Cook Islands.
Springbok Sevens squad: Chris Dry, Frankie Horne, Boom Prinsloo, Cornal Hendricks, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Bernado Botha, Paul Delport, Cecil Afrika, Steven Hunt, Mark Richards, Stephan Dippenaar.
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