Paul Delport of South Africa runs the ball during the match between South Africa and United States on day one of the Gold Coast Sevens World Series at Skilled Park on November 25, 2011 in Gold Coast, Australia. - Photo by Matt Robert
The experienced Paul Delport did not pass his late fitness test and will therefore not play for the Springbok Sevens at the Japan Sevens in Tokyo, which starts on Saturday.
Delport, a former SA U21-captain, sustained a knee injury in Hong Kong but the Blitzbokke was hopeful that he could recover in time to play in the seventh HSBC Sevens World Series tournament of the season.
Bernado Botha, originally left out of the side to make way for rookie Dirk Dippenaar, now returns to the final 12-man squad.
The withdrawal of Delport is a second blow for South Africa this week, which also lost playmaker Cecil Afrika because of a knee injury. The IRB Sevens Player of the Year returned has already returned home from the Far East to continue his rehabilitation with a view to return to action in the last two Series tournaments in May in Scotland and England.
Paul Treu, the South Africa Sevens coach, said he was looking forward to the tournament despite the loss of two of most experienced players.
“We all know what Cecil is capable of but Paul made a huge difference when he replaced Cecil against New Zealand, although we lost that match 19-12. Their absence now opens the door for other young players who will be keen to impress and to grab their opportunities, so that is very exciting for me,” said Treu in reference to the inclusion of debutant Dippenaar.
The absence of Afrika and Delport will not force the Blitzbokke to drastically change their approach, according to Treu: “We have to chance a few small things in our game plan but other than that our approach will be much the same. The players have worked hard in training this week and we are all looking forward to play in this new event.”
The South Africans get their campaign underway at 03:38 on Saturday morning against Scotland. Their other pool matches are against Portugal (08:03 and Samoa (11:47). All matches will be shown live on SuperSport 6.
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