London Sevens: South Africa recall Justin Geduld for final round
Young playmaker returns for the HSBC Sevens World Series finale as Cecil Afrika misses out through injury
South Africa have recalled playmaker Justin Geduld for the Marriott London Sevens after Cecil Afrika was ruled out through injury.
The 21-year-old was initially left out of the squad for the final two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, but passed a “stringent” medical assessment.
Cecil is a world-class player and we all know that, but so is Justin. He is also a playmaker just like Cecil and we could not have asked for a better replacement.
Afrika was injured on the first day of the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens last Saturday, while the Blitzbooke also lost Philip Snyman during the captain’s run, prompting head coach Neil Powell to deploy Carel du Preez at short notice, with the youngster keeping his place for the London leg.
A disappointing second day at Scotstoun Stadium saw South Africa surrender their lead at the top of the World Series.
All they could manage was a fifth-place finish by surviving a late scare as Russell Weir’s conversion attempt at the death came back off the bar to hand South Africa the Plate, while rivals Fiji defeated New Zealand 24-17 in the Cup final to lift the Ned Haig Cup giving Fiji a slender five-point lead going into the final round at Twickenham this weekend.
Despite the loss of Afrika, Powell insisted that he could not have a better replacement than Geduld, who was part of the South Africa squad that claimed Gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last summer.
“Scans revealed that Cecil will not be ready for this weekend, but we are very lucky to have Justin available again,” Powell said.
“Cecil is a world-class player and we all know that, but so is Justin. He is also a playmaker just like Cecil and we could not have asked for a better replacement.
“Justin has proved himself in the past and did not make the Dream Team at the end of last year’s series for nothing.”
Powell’s men now need to hope that Fiji finish outside of the top three at the home of English rugby if they are to have a chance of claiming a second World Series title.
France, Portugal and the USA await South Africa in Pool D, while Fiji will do battle with Argentina, Samoa and Canada in Pool A.
The South Africa head coach conceded that they weren’t at their best in Glasgow, but will fight to the death.
“We are disappointed as we did not play our best rugby in Scotland, but we must get back up and play with the right mindset in every game,” Powell added.
“Sevens is a funny sport and lots of things can still happen.
“We need to make sure every effort is our best one this weekend, so that we cannot blame ourselves for a lack of effort at the end of it.”