Springbok Sevens sign Mentz and Afrika

The Springbok Sevens team has contracted two more players in their quest to successfully defend their IRB World Sevens Series championship.

SA Rugby confirmed on Wednesday the signings of MJ Mentz and Cecil Afrika for the 2009/10 international season. These additions increase the number of Sevens players currently contracted to SA Rugby to 12.

Mentz makes a welcome return to the team after a break of more than a year, which saw him playing club rugby in Italy. Afrika is also rewarded with a fulltime contract after an impressive display for South Africa at the recent World Games.

He was the outstanding performer for South Africa at the Trustco Namibian Sevens which they won two weeks ago in Windhoek. Afrika, a playmaker who represents the Griffons in the Absa Currie Cup First Division, was a SA Sevens squad member last season and is a product of the SA Emerging Sevens and High Performance programmes.

Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach, welcomed the signing of the duo and said both players will definitely strengthen his squad.

Treu also expressed the hope of tying mercurial playmaker Gio Aplon for at least one more season. Aplon was a vital member of the Bok Sevens team last season and has returned to Western Province to play in the Absa Currie Cup.

“MJ brings with him a considerable amount of experience, something we can surely do with after the loss of so many stalwarts to provincial and Super Rugby.

Afrika is an exciting speedster and he will complement our game breaking abilities. I’ve closely followed his development and his inclusion in the squad is a just reward for his progress.

“Gio would be a fantastic signing again but I realise that he needs to sit down and discuss his immediate future with Western Province.

“I am hopeful that we would be able to use him because he could be a key figure again in our plans to launch a credible defence of our titles in Dubai, George and Adelaide and, of course, our World Series championship,” explained Treu.

He added: “With the expected introduction of Rugby Sevens as an Olympic sport, we are working hard on making sure we look after our players and I want to thank SA Rugby for their commitment and support in this regard.”

The Springbok Sevens are currently busy with pre-season training at their base in Stellenbosch.

The team’s next match outing is at the Middelburg Sevens at the end of the month. A week later they will defend their title – where they play as the SA Vipers – at the Singapore Cricket Club Sevens.

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