The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) unveiled an experienced and powerful squad of 12 players on Thursday who will compete for the first men’s rugby sevens gold medal at Rio 2016.
Kyle Brown will captain a squad featuring 279 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments between them, although there is no place for Rugby World Cup 2007 winner Bryan Habana, who played in Las Vegas and Vancouver this year in a bid to make the Olympic team.
Werner Kok, the 2015 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC, missed the entire series with a knee injury but is now recovered and is joined by two Super Rugby players in Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe
Coach Neil Powell has kept faith with the series regular who helped the Springbok Sevens finish as runners-up to Fiji in 2015-16, including dream team members Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla, the leading try-scorer with an impressive 66 tries.
“It was really tough finalising the 12-man squad presented to SASCOC,” admitted Powell, whose side will face Australia, France and Spain in Pool B when the men’s competition takes place at Deodoro Stadium on 9-11 August.
“I could have picked three different teams and all would have been very competitive, but unfortunately, only 12 can go. We have named Francois Hougaard and Chris Dry as back-up players that will travel to Rio as well, but they will be staying outside the official village.
“I want to thank all 23 players that contributed this year and the final 19 who really worked hard towards a common goal. That said, we are not done yet and will have to work hard in the remaining 20 days or so to fine-tune our play.
“We are all excited about this as it does not come bigger than the Olympics, but also realise that there will be expectations for us to perform. We can only give our best and hope we can justify the great support we are getting from the public.
“We are not thinking medals, but rather on how to execute on our first match on day one of the tournament. We will focus on what we do well and that will hopefully bring the desired results.”
South Africa squad: Kyle Brown (captain), Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman, Werner Kok, Dylan Sage, Kwagga Smith, Rosko Specman, Cheslin Kolbe, Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld, Juan de Jongh, Seabelo Senatla.
Travelling reserves: Chris Dry, Francois Hougaard.