Are the Springbok sevens ready for life after Afrika and Brown?

Springbok sevens coach Neil Powell said the next two legs of the Sevens World Series will determine their readiness for life without Kyle Brown and Cecil Afrika.

The two stars will miss chunks of the season‚ with the former sitting out the rest of the year due to a knee injury.

With this season being the first in a four year cycle ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics‚ Powell said it’s the best time to test player’s aptitude at the highest level.

South Africa have a difficult pool with Australia‚ Fiji and Japan being in their group.

“We may have lost our leaders but it’s an opportunity for us to see how our new players like Zain Davids will cope at this level‚” Powell said.

“We said this is the season where we test players because this is the first one in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympics.

I’m not sure if there’s a likelihood of Kyle and Cecil being part of the system at the time.”

“They’re 28 at the moment and by the time that event comes round‚ they’ll be in their 30s and I’m not sure they’ll around by then.

“We have to use such tournaments to blood players like Zain and he showed his talent when he played for the South African Under-20’s last year.

“I know there’s a few of our senior players who aren’t going to make the next Olympic cycle.”

Siviwe “Shakes” Soyizwapi’s inclusion becomes important from a Seabelo Senatla perspective.

The speedster is not going to be available after the Sydney leg due to Super Rugby commitments with the Stormers.

Next weekend’s leg in Wellington is an important one from a continuity perspective as the Blitzbokke were in the top two in Dubai and Cape Town.

Powell has recognised the need of giving a speedster like Soyizwapi a chance‚ especially for the life they will have to live without Senatla.

It wasn’t a pretty one when he came off injured in the Cape Town Sevens.

“It’s going to be important for us to give Shakes a fair share of game time because Seabelo is leaving after the next two tournaments and we need to get Shakes into the system as quickly as possible.

“Shakes showed us what he’s capable off in the three tournaments he took part in last year and he can play at this level.

“He may not have Seabelo’s speed but he has other attributes he brings to the table that make him a really good player in our setup.

“Kwagga Smith is also leaving after the next two tournaments and we hoped Kyle would be around. This is where we’ll be looking to guys like Zain and Ryan Oosthuizen to fill the gaps.” — TMG Digital

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