South Africa seek flying start at Dubai Sevens

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Siviwe Soyizwapi (pictured) has been named captain of a side that sees several top players returning.

 

He said he was comfortable in his leadership role.

 

"We have a number of experienced players in the squad, which makes my job much easier. The leadership group in the team is also settled and that helps a lot.

 

"We have prepared well and worked hard to be ready for this. The first tournament is normally one of the toughest out there and everybody is still fresh and eager to make their mark, so every match is a real battle," he said.

 

Back from injury after a year out of action are former world player of the year Seabelo Senatla, world player of the year nominee Rosko Specman and last season's South Africa sevens player of the year Dylan Sage.

 

Ruhan Nel will return to Sevens after touring Europe with the Springboks in 2018.

 

Second year players JC Pretorius and Kurt-Lee Arendse will make their tournament debuts having played for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy last year.

 

Also back in the side are Ryan Oosthuizen, Chris Dry, Zain Davids, Selvyn Davids and Justin Geduld.

 

Coach Neil Powell said selecting the side had been tough because the squad's preparations were well on track.

 

"I think we are better prepared compared to the same time last year," he said.

 

"We had warm-up tournaments in Germany, Kenya and England and everyone had a good run in a least one of those. Selection was tough, as most of the regulars are available for the opening tournament."

 

South Africa would be looking to make a good start to the series in Dubai.

 

"We had a poor start in Dubai last year and it took us a while to recover from that. We can't promise anything this time around, but I am pretty sure the effort will be there and if that is the case, we will be very competitive," Powell said.

 

On their warm-up tour they won the German tournament and finished as losing finalists in Kenya and England.

 

"Those results were good for us, because it removed any complacency we might have had. The margins between the teams in the World Series are so small that one bad game will punish you. We will be very aware of that," he said.

 

South Africa's pool in Dubai includes England, Spain and Kenya. New Zealand is drawn with Samoa, Canada and Wales.

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