Former Springbok wings Rosko Specman and Travis Ismaiel were both named in an experienced and multi-skilled South Africa Sevens squad that will travel to Harare on Thursday for the Rugby Africa Olympic Games qualifiers.
Springbok Sevens head coach Sandile Ngcobo also recalled fit-again Selvyn Davids, Zain Davids and Ronald Brown for the important weekend at the Harare Sports Club, where victory will result in a third consecutive appearance for the Blitzboks at the Olympic Games.
The trio all missed large chunks of last season’s World Series campaign, but are now back in a squad laden with experience, including 2022 Rookie of the Year, Ricardo Duarttee. Donovan Don and Ismaiel are the only players who have not played in at least 10 HSBC SVNS events.
However, regular Blitzbok captain Siviwe Soyizwapi has been ruled out with an injury. while like Mfundo Ndhlovu and Shaun Williams are also still recovering from pre-season operations.
As a result, Impi Visser will wear the captain’s armband in Harare, with Zain Davids named as his deputy.
“We have a very experienced group, which helped in our preparations,” said Ngcobo.
“This is a massive tournament for us, and it was great to have such a strong leadership group available for selection considering the injury to ‘Shakes’ a month ago.
“Impi had captained us in tournament play before and will be able to handle that responsibility without it affecting his normal game.”
Ngcobo said Specman’s return came at the right time: “He will basically replace ‘Shakes’ in the squad and will mainly play on the wing for us in this tournament. We all know what he brings to a team.
“The return of playmakers such as Selvyn (Davids), Justin (Geduld) and Ronald (Brown) does give us nice options, but this will have to be a team effort.
“Our forwards are crucial to allow the playmakers the opportunity to express themselves. Nothing has changed from our ‘team first’ attitude and philosophy,” Ngcobo added.
South Africa’s pool fixtures (Saturday, 16 September):
10h50: Cote D’Ivoire
Blitzbok squad (with World Series stats):
Christie Grobbelaar – 18 tournaments, 150 points (30 tries)
Ryan Oosthuizen – 43 tournaments, 200 points (40 tries)
Impi Visser (captain) – 32 tournaments, 150 points (30 tries)
Zain Davids – 40 tournaments, 188 points (37 tries)
Travis Ismaiel – 5 tournaments, 10 points (2 tries)
Ricardo Duarttee – 10 tournaments, 212 points (15 tries, 67 conversions, 1 penalty goal)
Ronald Brown – 13 tournaments, 338 points (34 tries, 84 conversions)
Selvyn Davids – 29 tournaments, 586 points (73 tries, 109 conversions, 1 penalty goal)
Justin Geduld – 54 tournaments, 1077 points (116 tries, 247 conversions, 1 penalty goal)
Donavan Don – 4 tournaments, 10 points (2 tries)
Rosko Specman – 30 tournaments, 416 points (76 tries, 18 conversions)
Shilton van Wyk – 13 tournaments, 135 points (27 tries)