Blitzboks suffer double blow

29 January 2018 - 17:06 By Craig Ray
Ruhan Nel of South Africa during day 1 of the 2017 HSBC Cape Town Sevens match between South Africa and France at Cape Town Stadium on December 09, 2017 in Cape Town.
Ruhan Nel of South Africa during day 1 of the 2017 HSBC Cape Town Sevens match between South Africa and France at Cape Town Stadium on December 09, 2017 in Cape Town.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

The Blitzboks suffered two major blows after captain Philip Snyman and star back Ruhan Nel were ruled out of the fourth leg of the World Sevens Series in Hamilton this weekend.

Snyman‚ who made his 50th World Series appearance last weekend‚ sustained a hamstring injury while Nel ‘twisted’ knee while playing in Sydney over the past weekend.

The Blitzboks finished runners-up to Australia in the Sydney Sevens‚ but still lead the World Series on 58 points after three rounds – four points clear of New Zealand.

SA Rugby Sevens Academy products Zain Davids and Muller du Plessis will replace the pair. They departed for New Zealand on Monday. Davids‚ who played in six tournaments for the Blitzboks in the 2016/17 season‚ replaces Snyman‚ while Du Plessis will be the reserve player for the tournament.

Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ who travelled to Australia as the replacement player‚ took over from Nel on the final day of the Sydney Sevens. Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said losing experienced players such as Snyman and Nel was a setback‚ but that they can’t dwell on the negatives.

Former skipper Kyle Brown takes over the captaincy in Hamilton. Davids made his debut for South Africa a year ago in New Zealand and then played in Sydney‚ Las Vegas‚ Vancouver‚ Hong Kong and Singapore‚ before joining the Junior Springboks for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia.

Du Plessis represented the SA Schools team in 2016 and 2017 and had his first taste with the Academy side earlier this month. “Zain will slot in at tighthead in a straight swop with Philip‚” said Powell. “He played in those two SA Rugby Sevens Academy tournament victories in South America at the beginning of the month and did really well.

"He will also be very keen to become a permanent fixture in the team‚ so we are looking for some positive performances from him. “Muller can learn and even play when called upon.

"He only finished school last year and is highly rated‚ having played SA Schools and for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in South America recently.

"He is very talented and has a bright future and I think he will become a very good addition to our squad.

"The sooner we expose him to this level of play‚ the better.” The South African team arrived in Hamilton on Monday.

They face Papua New Guinea‚ Russia and England in Pool B of the tournament that starts on Saturday at the FMG Waikato Stadium.

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