Cheetahs and South Africa Under 20 wing Lionel Mapoe has joined the Springbok Sevens team in San Diego for the USA Sevens, the fourth event on the IRB Sevens World Series and the final warm-up for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
The speedster was called up as replacement for the injured Springbok Sevens stalwart and captain, Mzwandile Stick. The SA skipper returned home on Monday after suffering a hamstring injury in Wellington, which has ruled him out of the USA event and maybe next month’s showpiece in Dubai.
More encouraging for coach Paul Treu was the news that Gio Aplon and Philip Snyman are both on course to regain full fitness in time for Saturday’s kick-off.
Aplon complained from a stiff neck after he made a try-saving tackle against Kenya and did not play on the last day in Wellington, while Snyman’s hand injury ruled him out of the clashes against New Zealand, the USA and Wales.
“Gio and Philip should be fine because both of them have already started with gym training," said Treu.
" We will continue to monitor them and although they may miss some of the training matches against Mexico and Uruguay as a precaution, I am confident that both will be ready come this weekend.”
The ultra-competitive world of Sevens
After winning in both Dubai and George at the end of 2008, the Boks had to make do with victory in the Plate in New Zealand. The remain top of the World Series standings but are out to improve in San Diego.
“We have moved on from those disappointments [in Wellington] and I sense a real hunger amongst the guys to do well here in the States.
“The overall surprise results in New Zealand might have come as a shock to many, but I have been saying for a while now that all the teams in the Series are moving closer to each other in terms of performances, which can only be good for Sevens,” said Treu.
In San Diego the Springbok Sevens will contest Pool A on day one with Australia, hosts USA and their North American rivals Canada.