Branco du Preez set to become most-capped Blitzboks player at London Sevens

By Machuki Sundaa

Branco du Preez will line up for the Blitzboks in his 70th tournament appearance at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London, becoming South Africa’s most capped rugby sevens player.

Du Preez, who is tied with Kyle Brown for 69 tournaments, will take the lead after being called up for duty by coach Neil Powell ahead of the penultimate stage of the world series to be held in London this weekend.

JC Pretorius and Muller du Plessis, who last featured for the Blitzboks in the Vancouver leg, have made the cut. Both come back from injury to replace Chris Brown and Angelo Davids, respectively. Davids is out because he has been included in the Junior Springboks squad.

Travelling with the squad for the May 25-26 tournament – led by stand-in captain Siviwe Soyizwapi – will be regular skipper Philip Snyman as the 13th man.

Speaking to the Rugby South Africa website, Powell congratulated Du Preez on his milestone achievement.

“Branco will be the first to tell you that it is not about accolades, but about contributing to the team,”: he said. “So it is pleasing that he can claim a personal milestone such as this one. He is one of the best examples of what this team stands for and this is a just reward for a very humble person.

Powell said he was spoiled for choice with so many quality players available for selection.

“We had a full squad to select from for a change, with a lot of players coming back from injury and available for selection,” said Powell. “The fact that the squad won in Singapore was also a factor, as we wanted to reward those players as well.

“One of our objectives for the year was to expand our depth with younger players, many of whom have now forced their way into the team. It is an exciting squad and with qualification to the 2020 Olympics Games a strong possibility, there a real motivation to finish the season well.”

With Olympic qualification certain for the top four teams, the Blitzboks occupy fourth place on the world series after eight tournaments with 121 points. United States lead with 145 points ahead of Fiji (142) and New Zealand (130).

South Africa are in Pool A in London and face Japan, Canada and Argentina.

The South Africa team for the London Sevens comprise: Ryan Oosthuizen, Sako Makata, Impi Visser, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Werner Kok, JC Pretorius, Branco du Preez, Selvyn Davids and Justin Geduld. Stedman Gans, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Muller du Plessis and Philip Snyman.

Main photo credit: Springboks Rugby

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