The Blitzboks will have to conquer New Zealand without Philip Snyman after the SA Sevens captain was ruled out of the Hamilton Sevens tournament with a hamstring injury.
Snyman joined the gold cap club on Friday when he led South Africa out for the start of the Sydney Sevens, but he was sorely missed in the final, which the Blitzboks lost 29-0, after suffering a hamstring injury during the semi-finals.
Ruhan Nel also missed that match with a knee injury that has subsequently seen him follow Snyman back to South Africa. The hardworking duo will be replaced by SA Rugby Sevens Academy products Zain Davids and Muller du Plessis, who were set to leave for New Zealand on Monday.
“Zain will slot in at tighthead in a straight swop with Philip,” said Blitzboks coach Neil Powell. “He played in those two SA Rugby Sevens Academy tournament victories in South America at the beginning of the month and did really well. He will also be very keen to become a permanent fixture in the team, so we are looking for some positive performances from him.
“Muller can learn and even play when called upon. He only finished school last year and is highly rated, having played SA Schools and for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy in South America recently. He is very talented and has a bright future and I think he will become a very good addition to our squad. The sooner we expose him to this level of play, the better.”
Davids played in six tournaments for the Blitzboks in the 2016/17 season while Du Plessis will be the reserve player for the tournament. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who travelled to Australia as the replacement player, took over from Nel on the final day of the Sydney Sevens. Kyle Brown takes over the captaincy.
Davids made his debut for South Africa a year ago in New Zealand and then played in Sydney, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Hong Kong and Singapore, before joining the Junior Springboks for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia.
Du Plessis represented the SA Schools team in 2016 and 2017 and had his first taste with the Academy side earlier this month.
The Blitzboks arrived in Hamilton on Monday. They face Papua New Guinea, Russia and England in Pool B of the Hamilton Sevens, the fourth stop on the World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.