Rosko Specman

Rosko Specman of South Africa runs with the ball during the HSBC Dubai Sevens Series men’s rugby match between South Africa and Spain, at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on December 6, 2019. (Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

Specmagic back to boost Blitzboks under new leadership

Dual international Rosko Specman has been included in a star-studded Blitzboks squad for next weekend’s Dubai Sevens tournament.

Rosko Specman

Rosko Specman of South Africa runs with the ball during the HSBC Dubai Sevens Series men’s rugby match between South Africa and Spain, at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on December 6, 2019. (Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

Experienced playmaker Selvyn Davids will lead the Blitzboks team for the 2024 HSBC SVNS series, starting in Dubai next weekend, where he will be joined by two uncapped players in the first of the eight tournaments of the revamped season. 

SPRINGBOK SEVENS BRING BACK MAGIC MAN

Davids will lead an experienced squad to the Dubai Sevens, while the addition of newcomers Katlego Letebele and Quewin Nortje, alongside fellow Junior Springbok teammate Masande Mtshali, add some youthful exuberance and energy. 

With regular captain Siviwe Soyizwapi, ruled out for the biggest chunk of the season due to a knee injury, Davids – who will be playing in his 30th tournament on the circuit – will provide the Blitzboks with the necessary leadership and will be backed up by Zain Davids and Impi Visser, who will share the captaincy when Selvyn Davids is not on the field.

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Blitzboks head coach Sandile Ngcobo explained the decision to hand Davids the captaincy, while he said the strong leadership group will also be an advantage to the squad.

“Siviwe will only return to the circuit in the latter part of the series next year,” said Blitzboks coach. “We want his focus to be on getting back into his own game and not worry about the captaincy and the pressure that comes with that. 

“Selvyn did lead the team in matches last season when Siviwe was not playing, so the coaching staff and management have full trust in his abilities.

“We are lucky to have a strong leadership group around. Justin (Geduld) has over 50 tournaments of experience, Ryan (Oosthuizen) and Zain over 40 and Impi is in the 30s, so we will have a strong core. The experience of Rosko (Specman) in this regard will also be very valuable to us.”

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Specman returns to HSBC SVNS, having last played in Cape Town in December 2020 and, apart from the two uncapped players, will be the only player not involved in last year’s series. 

Ngcobo said the inclusion of Letebele and Nortje, who were part of the Junior Springbok squad that won bronze in the World Rugby U20 Championship earlier in the year, was an exciting prospect. 

“They have so much potential and showed a massive learning curve since joining us,” he said. “Each brings a good skill set, and I firmly believe they will contribute from the start. They also add a nice balance to the team with their capabilities.” 

He added that there is also a need to introduce talented youngsters into the sevens system: “By selecting these younger players, we are creating a step into building the next generation. The coaches share the view of our High-Performance manager, Marius Schoeman, that this is the best way for the system going forward and it is great to have that open-mindedness for our needs as coaches.”

Ngcobo will miss the opening tournament on medical advice, and assistant coach Philip Snyman will hold the Blitzboks reins in Dubai.

For Davids, who will become the 22nd captain for the Blitzboks on the HSBC SVNS stage, the captaincy comes with great pride and responsibility.

“I was hugely honoured when coach asked me to lead the side,” the new Blitzboks skipper said.

“The Blitzboks are a big part of my life, and with Siviwe out for such a long time, I am more than happy and honoured to lead the side. The leadership group confirmed their backing already, so the next job will be to get ourselves ready to perform against Samoa in that opener in Dubai.”

The Springbok Sevens will face Samoa, Canada and New Zealand in Pool A on the opening day in Dubai next Saturday.

THE BLITZBOKS SQUAD FOR DUBAI:

Forwards: Christie Grobbelaar, Ryan Oosthuizen, Impi Visser, Zain Davids, Katlego Letebele (uncapped), Masande Mtshali.

Backs: Ronald Brown, Selvyn Davids, Dewald Human, Justin Geduld, Shilton van Wyk, Rosko Specman, Quewin Nortje – uncapped.

Blitzboks squad
The Blitzboks squad for the Dubai Sevens. Photo: SA Rugby.