x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

South Africa ready to unleash secret weapon

Cecil Afrika may be an unknown quantity in the IRB series, but the Springboks are confident the 21-year-old could be the shining light of the tournament.

DUBAI // World Series champions South Africa are ready to unleash a secret weapon against World Cup winners Wales today as they prepare to defend their Dubai Sevens title. The debutant Cecil Afrika may be an unknown quantity in the IRB series, but Springboks coach Paul Treu is confident the 21-year-old, who was drafted in to replace the injured Renfred Dazel, can make a big impact.

"Cecil has huge potential and I think he is more than ready and more than capable to do the damage for us," said Treu, who has also called up Free State centre JW Jonker. "I am convinced Cecil is going to be one of the outstanding players of this tournament. "Of course, it is about phasing the youngsters in - he is not just going to start every game - but if he shows the ability to start games we won't be afraid to throw him in at the deep end, and I'm confident he will be able to swim."

Afrika cites World Cup winner Bryan Habana as his hero and South Africa's new Sevens captain Paul Delport insisted the world is at the full-back's flying feet. "Cecil is fantastic, a special player; an absolute gamebreaker. His potential is unlimited," said the captain. "It's nice for him to come into a team who have a lot of experience and he is learning a lot. "He has also picked up a lot of things from Renfred Dazel and is just such a talent. I think everyone is going to get very excited when they see him."

Dazel is returning from knee surgery that sidelined him for three months. He is not deemed fit enough for Treu's first team but has travelled to the UAE, however, to play for the Marauders in the International Invitational tournament. Treu believed Afrika can be the playmaker in Dazel's absence. @Email:gmeenaghan@thenational.ae