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Injuries, Covid travel restrictions affect Blitzboks’ preparations for second Dubai leg

FILE - South Africa Sevens coach Neil Powell chats to his players. Photo: Ryan Willkisky/BackpagePix

FILE - South Africa Sevens coach Neil Powell chats to his players. Photo: Ryan Willkisky/BackpagePix

Published Nov 29, 2021


Cape Town — Blitzboks speedster Muller du Plessis has been ruled out of this weekend’s Dubai Sevens with a leg injury, while Ryan Oosthuizen will be given as much time as possible to recover from his ankle niggle.

In the 2021-22 World Series-opener at the weekend, the Springboks Sevens side won their third straight tournament after humbling the USA 42-7 in the Cup final on Saturday afternoon.

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In doing so, the South Africans set a new record by winning their 18th consecutive World Series match — two more than their previous best run of the 2008/09 season.

Coach Neil Powell confirmed that the injured Du Plessis will return home for further examinations as soon as the necessary travel arrangements can be made.

Oosthuizen will be treated and assessed throughout the week before a call is made on his inclusion in the squad.

“If Ryan does not recover in time then we will be forced to play this weekend with 11 players (due to current restrictions on international flights from South Africa),” Powell confirmed on Monday.

“Unfortunately, that is not in our control and we have to adapt and make plans accordingly,” added Powell, who explained that management of the players’ workloads will be a huge focus for the Blitzboks this week.

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“We have to spread the load equally amongst the guys, in training and while playing, so we can keep them as fresh as possible. With potentially only 11 available, it will however be an interesting challenge.

“So, this scenario is something we as a coaching staff will look at closely so we can make our plans accordingly,” added Powell.

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Following the opening tournament, the Blitzboks have been drawn against the same pool opponents they faced last Friday – Japan, Ireland and Great Britain.


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