Rugby’s biggest party set for kick-off
The final squads have been declared by all 16 teams set to compete in the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, with South Africa, Kenya and England all recalling star names and Series leaders New Zealand making a late change.
Key Springbok Sevens playmaker Cecil Afrika has passed a fitness test and will take his place in Paul Treu's squad in his home town, Port Elizabeth.
Afrika's fitness is a massive boost for Treu, who is already without the services of captain, Kyle Brown, who suffered a broken leg in Dubai, Branco du Preez (hamstring) and Steven Hunt (foot). Forward Frankie Horne will captain the Blitzbokke in his 44th consecutive Series tournament, equalling the SA appearance record of Fabian Juries.
Afrika is one of two former IRB Sevens Players of the Year recalled for the tournament in PE with England's Ollie Phillips also proving his fitness. Teammate Dan Norton lines up in South Africa four tries short of 100 in his World Series career.
Series leaders New Zealand have been forced into a late change with new cap, 18-year-old Waikato player Luke Masirewa, flying in to replace Sherwin Stowers, who failed to recover from a hamstring injury picked up during last weekend's Dubai tournament.
Meanwhile, Kenya have called up former captain Humphrey Kayange as one of four replacements from Dubai as coach Mike Friday prepares to make do without two key flyers, Collins Injera and Oscar Ouma, as well as Sidney Ashioya and Biko Adema.
In other team news, Dubai champions Samoa will have to make do without their most potent attacking weapon last week, Paul Perez, who is ruled out with the injury he suffered in that final, in which he scored two first half tries.
Dubai Cup semifinalists France have been forced to replace the injured Julien Candelon with Douillard Baptiste.
Scotland hand a debut to Russell Weir and have wing James Fleming one try short of his 50th on the World Series.
Regional African qualifiers Zimbabwe hand debuts to Tipiwa Tsomondo and Garth Ziegler in an otherwise experienced squad.
The action starts at 11am on Saturday when tournament holders New Zealand play against Scotland and this will be followed by two mouth-watering clashes between Fiji and England (11:22am) and Kenya against Argentina (11:44am). SA’s first match is at 1:32pm versus Dubai winners Samoa, then against France (4:40pm) and Australia (7:36pm).
Pool A: Samoa, France, South Africa, Australia
Pool B: New Zealand, Fiji, Scotland, England
Pool C: Kenya, Wales, Argentina, Spain
Pool D: Portugal, Canada, USA, Zimbabwe
© SA Rugby