Injuries to more than a dozen players, many of them regular starters, have severely disrupted the Blitzboks over the last few months, and as a result, Donovan Don, Sebastiaan Jobb, Morné Joubert and Mpho Kubheka have been called up to join the training squad in Stellenbosch.
Don, a former Junior Springbok fullback, will get a taste of the Blitzbok environment after he starred for the NovaVit Griffons in the Currie Cup First Division last season. The fleetfooted Don can play with equal ease on the wing and was a member of last year's triumphant SA U20 team that won the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series in Italy.
Like Don, both Jobb and Joubert have progressed through the junior rugby ranks, while Kubheka is currently plying his trade at scrumhalf for the University of Johannesburg in the FNB Varsity Cup.
Jobb was a member of the SA Rugby U18 Academy training squad in 2017 before moving to the Vodacom Bulls’ junior teams and more recently abroad, while Joubert, who is currently contracted to the Airlink Pumas, was a member of the SA Under-18 Sevens and SA Schools sides in 2014.
Springbok Sevens coach Sandile Ngcobo attributed the foursome’s call up to the training group to the good collaboration between SA Rugby and the provinces.
“We are grateful for the collective effort between SA Rugby and the players’ provinces,” said Ngcobo.
“With our local competitions up and running we know that managing player resources is a very difficult juggling act, and I therefore want to thank their teams for releasing the players to our camp.”
However, the newcomers will have to hit the road running because of the short turnaround time between the tournaments. The Blitzboks are due to leave for Hong Kong at end of next week.
“We don’t have a lot of time on hands to prepare for the next two tournaments, and experience has shown us it takes a while for newcomers to find their feet,” added the Blitzbok coach.
“However, I do feel they have a fantastic opportunity here not only to showcase their ability and skills, but also to demonstrate how quickly they can slot into such a demanding environment.”
Meanwhile, some of the injured Blitzboks are due for return to training next week and depending on their return to play progress, some of them might even come into consideration for the travelling squad to Hong Kong.
The Blitzboks are currently without the services of Selvyn Davids, Ronald Brown, Dewald Human, Justin Geduld, Shaun Williams and Jaiden Baron, all of whom are crucial playmakers.
The Springbok Sevens will face Ireland, New Zealand and Kenya in their pool at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, which runs from 31 March to 2 April.