Geduld in mix again for the Bl­itzboks

The Herald (South Africa) - - Sport - Craig Ray

The Bl­itzboks have been boosted by the news that king­pin play­maker Justin Geduld passed a fit­ness test and will play in the Cape Town leg of HSBC World Sev­ens Se­ries this week­end.

Geduld sus­tained a knock to the head in the sea­son-open­ing Dubai tour­na­ment last week‚ and has been go­ing through con­cus­sion pro­to­cols all week.

He sat out train­ing on Tues­day but was in­cluded in a de­fen­sive ses­sion on Thurs­day and, af­ter more med­i­cal checks‚ was de­clared ready.

With a win cru­cial to the Bl­itzboks to en­sure they do not fall well be­hind early pace­set­ters New Zealand‚ who won in Dubai‚ hav­ing the best pos­si­ble squad was vi­tal.

The Bl­itzboks have gone into the sea­son with­out a host of reg­u­lars who helped win back-to-back World Se­ries ti­tles over the past two years.

All-time lead­ing points scorer Ce­cil Afrika and all-time tryscor­ing leader Se­abelo Se­natla are two ab­sen­tees, while the likes of tough for­wards Kwagga Smith‚ Tim Agaba and Dy­lan Sage are also out of the Sev­ens.

De­spite last week’s dis­ap­point­ing sixth-place show­ing in Dubai‚ coach Neil Pow­ell has kept faith in the squad that did duty‚ believ­ing they will be bet­ter this week.

Pow­ell named the same 12man squad to front up in the Cape Town Sta­dium on Satur­day.

With Geduld back‚ Selvyn Davids will again be the of­fi­cial re­place­ment.

“I was pleased with the per­for­mances against Scot­land and Fiji‚ our last two matches last Satur­day‚ and I saw more of that flu­ency and ur­gency in train­ing as well this week‚” Pow­ell said.

“Know­ing the play­ers‚ they will all be des­per­ate to cor­rect last week­end’s dis­ap­point­ments.”

Pow­ell called in Chris Dry and Mfundo Ndhlovu to train this week‚ but was happy to tackle Pool A op­po­nents New Zealand‚ Samoa and Zim­babwe with the same squad.

“We have learnt les­sons from last week­end‚ but that is also true for the other teams in the tour­na­ment‚” Pow­ell said.

“Ev­ery­body knows a lit­tle more of each other than was the case last week‚ so it will be tougher to break down de­fences‚ no doubt.

“That said‚ we know we can only im­prove from last week and that is a nice prospect.”

Pow­ell said the fo­cus re­mains on the first match against Samoa on Satur­day.

“We had a tough bat­tle against them in Dubai and it will not be dif­fer­ent this time‚” Pow­ell said of their op­po­nents‚ who were beaten 19-12 by the Bl­itzboks last week­end.

“We will have to be very sharp for our open­ing match.”

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