South Africa Sevens coach Paul Treu has named his 12-man squad for the opening two events of the IRB Sevens World Series 2008/09 only days after suffering the “big blow” of losing captain Neil Powell to a recurrence of his fractured arm in a training match.

Powell will miss both the Emirates Airline Dubai and South Africa Sevens as a result of the radius fracture to his right forearm, the same arm he injured in the Currie Cup two months ago and will this time keep him out for up to 10 weeks.

South Africa are hopeful Powell, who led the Springboks to the Adelaide Sevens title in April – ending New Zealand’s 47-man unbeaten run in the final – will return to full fitness in time for the next legs of the IRB Sevens World Series in New Zealand and USA in February.

Treu has not only lose the services of Powell, but also IRB Sevens Player of the Year nominee Fabian Juries and other experienced players such Schalk van der Merwe, Stefan Basson and Jonathan Mokuena.

All bar two players named in the squad are contracted for the South Africa Sevens team for the forthcoming season, the exceptions being newcomers Philip Snyman of the Free State Cheetahs and the University of Cape Town’s Kyle Brown.

Burning desire for home triumph

“We have lost a lot of senior players and it is not easy to replace experienced players such as Fabian Juries, Schalk van der Merwe, Stefan Basson, Jonathan Mokuena and MJ Mentz,” admitted Treu, whose side were runners up to New Zealand in the 2007/08 Series.

“The injury to Neil is especially a big blow to us because he is such a good leader and one of our key forwards. However, the loss of the senior players now presents some of the youngsters with an ideal opportunity to establish themselves. Apart from the Series tournaments, we also have the Sevens World Cup to look forward to in Dubai.”

South Africa have never won their home tournament in George, something Treu and his squad are keen to put right on the 5-6 December when they face Australia, USA and Georgia in Pool B, a week after tackling Kenya, Scotland and Arabian Gulf in Dubai.

“We have a burning desire to win our own tournament for the first time and the key to success in the coming months will be to get into our stride as early as possible so that we can build a good measure of momentum going into the World Cup,” added Treu.

South Africa Sevens squad:
Philip Snyman, Kyle Brown, Marius Schoeman, Mpho Mbiyozo, Frankie Horne, Renfred Dazel, Paul Delport, Vuyo Zangqa, Mzwandile Stick, Gio Aplon, Ryno Benjamin, Robert Ebersohn.