BlitzBoks laden with stars
Brown only played in the first two tournaments of the 2016/17 before he picked up a serious knee injury, Geduld missed five tournaments due to a foot injury, and Smith and Senatla missed six each, because of Super Rugby commitments.
Tim Agaba is the only player in the team who did not travel to Dubai last year, where South Africa’s victory kick-started a wonderful season for the Blitzboks.
The Blitzboks are laden with experience, with the average number of tournaments per player standing at 37, the highest average ever for a Springbok Sevens team in the World Series tournament.
"We are fortunate to be in this situation," said Powell.
"There was a concerted effort to broaden our player base last season as we knew we would lose Seabelo and Albertus after four tournaments, but then we lost Kyle and Justin to injury as well and that certainly tested us.
"Despite blooding a handful of new guys last year, we still have the benefit of a really solid squad. We were blessed with the lack of injuries, especially as a number of the players had a stint in fifteens as well,"
Powell feels that the mental challenge will be as big as the physical one.
"We know we can win tournaments if we believe in our systems and structures," said Powell.
"The reality is that we will have a target on our backs this year, being the defending champions, not only in the series, but also in Dubai. We need to keep on believing that we can maintain the standards we have set as a team,"
Philip Snyman will again captain the side during the series.
"It is hard to believe it is that time of the year again and to be honest, we can’t wait to get onto the field and play," said Snyman.
"It was a tough pre-season, but once the full squad joined, so did the intensity and focus,"
The experienced Snyman will be representing South Africa in his 48th tournament and he is as keen as his debut at this venue way back in 2008.
"Make no mistake, all the teams are getting better and better and if you are not at your best, anyone can beat you," he warned.
"We have seen that and experienced it ourselves in the past, so cannot look past Uganda in our first match. After that, we can move our focus on to Kenya and Canada, our other opponents in the pool,"
South Africa Sevens: Chris Dry, Philip Snyman, Tim Agaba, Albertus Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Marco Labuschagne.