Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi will lead an interesting mix of experience and youth to Nairobi this week where South Africa will make a return to the Kenya Safari Sevens.
South Africa last played at the event in 2012 and returned as winners from the RFUEA Grounds in the Kenyan capital.
Soyizwapi is one of seven players in the squad that boast HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series experience. Impi Visser and Angelo Davids made their Blitzboks debuts last season, while Soyizwapi, Selvyn Davids, James Murphy and Cecil Afrika are all World Series winners from the 2017/18 season.
Selvyn Davids, Soyizwapi, Visser and Murphy were part of the squad that bagged the Oktoberfest7s title in Munich last month. Afrika makes a return to play after undergoing an operation in June to fix a torn bicep.
There are four new players in the group. Andrew Kota, Darren Adonis and Shilton van Wyk will don national colours for the first time since they joined the Academy last month. Christi Grobbelaar will also travel with team for the first time but he played in warm-up matches for the Academy against Uruguay, Ireland and the French Academy earlier this season, and just completed a stint with the DHL Western Province U19 team.
Adonis is fresh from winning the Currie Cup with the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. Kota joined from the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Van Wyk from Boland.
Luwi Mngadi played in warm-up matches for the Academy against Uruguay, Ireland and the French Academy earlier this season before he completed a stint with the Leopards in the Currie Cup First Division. He already toured with the Academy to Dubai and South America and had no problems slotting back in.
In an interesting selection, Blitzbok speedster Angelo Davids has been included at hooker, as he made a successful, if not spectacular start to his international sevens career on the wing earlier this year.
Springbok Sevens assistant coach Renfred Dazel, who will take the reins on this trip, said the Davids move is deliberate.
“Angelo and coach Neil Powell discussed this move, and both are keen to see how it works out for us,” said Dazel.
“The whole idea with tournaments like these, is to try new things and see if it works. That is not only limited to trying new plays and structures, but also to players, like with Angelo in this case.
“Obviously the hooker position in sevens does have its own intricacies, but Angelo is an intelligent sevens player and understands the game well. It will be interesting to see how he goes.”
Dazel said the team was selected with a number of things in mind as another squad will travel to England next week: “The players that formed part of the Munich win will provide the core, while this is the ideal opportunity to blood some new players in the SA Rugby Sevens Academy set-up to see how they go,” he explained.
The SA squad: 1. Christi Grobbelaar, 2. Angelo Davids, 3. Impi Visser, 4. Luyanda Mngadi, 5. James Murphy, 6. Shilton van Wyk, 7. Andrew Kota, 8. Selvyn Davids, 9. Darren Adonis, 10. Cecil Afrika, 11. Siviwe Soyizwapi (c), 12. Stedman Gans.
Management: Renfred Dazel (coach), Hugh Everson (physio), Ashley Evert (manager)