Rugby World Cup winner Bryan Habana has not made the cut for South Africa Sevens 12-man squad that will be heading to Brazil for the 2016 Rio Olympics next month. He is one of three Test capped fifteens players that didn’t make it.
Habana, Francois Hougaard and Ryan Kankowski all committed to playing Sevens for their country with the hope of being part of Team South Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games, but when the experienced squad of 12 players was announced today, their names were absent.
“My appreciation and gratitude for getting the opportunity to have been a part of the @blitzboks #RoadToRio far outweighs the disappointment of not making the final squad,” said Habana.
“I find myself incredibly fortunate to have become a part of a very special brotherhood, to have pushed myself further than what I had imagined in making the transition over to 7s being helped each and every step of the way by all the members of the squad and getting to experience just how much love these boys have for each other!”
Toulon teammate Quade Cooper also missed out, following his desire to play for Australia 7s.
HABANA’S FIRST EVER 7S TRY
Bok scrumhalf Hougaard however, has been included as one of two reserves, who will travel to Brazil as injury backup, but not stay with the team.
Kankowski, who was capped 20 times for the Springboks, never seemed to have enough time at 7s, and perhaps the same could be said of Habana in what is a fiercely competitive team, who ended the Sevens world series in second position, just ten points behind Fiji.
Another senior Springbok is in though, as midfielder Juan de Jongh, capped 14 times, will take up his place in the squad that is to be lead by Kyle Brown.
Stormers teammate Cheslin Kolbe has also made it, but coach Neil Powell mostly stuck to his regular Sevens stars. He said it was extremely difficult finalising the 12 players.
“I could have picked three different teams and all would have been very competitive, but unfortunately, only 12 can go. We have named Francois Hougaard and Chris Dry as back-up players that will travel to Rio as well, but they will be staying outside the official village,” said Powell.
“We are not thinking medals, but rather on how to execute on our first match on day one of the tournament. We will focus on what we do well and that will hopefully bring the desired results.”
The Springbok Sevens Olympic team:
Kyle Brown (captain), Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman, Werner Kok, Dylan Sage, Kwagga Smith, Rosko Specman, Cheslin Kolbe, Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld, Juan de Jongh, Seabelo Senatla. Travelling reserves: Chris Dry, Francois Hougaard.
Rio Olympics Sevens pools:
Pool A – Fiji, USA, Argentina, Brazil
Pool B – South Africa, Australia, France, Spain
Pool C – New Zealand, Great Britain, Kenya, Japan
My appreciation and gratitude for getting the opportunity to have been a part of the @blitzboks #RoadToRio far outweighs the disappointment of not making the final squad. I find myself incredibly fortunate to have become a part of a very special brotherhood, to have pushed myself further than what I had imagined in making the transition over to 7s being helped each and every step of the way by all the members of the squad and getting to experience just how much love these boys have for each other! Their hard work, dedication, commitment and never say die attitude is immensely infectious and will stand them in good stead as they head over to Rio to challenge for that Gold medal. To Neil, his coaching staff and each member of the squad, thanks for allowing me the opportunity to have been so warmly welcomed back into the 7s family. To those players selected, keep on pushing each other as the final training weeks approach and go out there and express your talents to the best of your abilities! I’ll be your biggest supporter and cheering you on loudly from Toulon!!!