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Habana Among A Number Of Union Stars Unveiled In Initial SA Sevens Rio Olympics Squad

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 22: South Africa sing the national anthem during the cup final match between South Africa and Scotland on day 2 of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series London at Twickenham Stadium on May 22 in London, England. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Brian Habana has been unveiled in a strong preliminary South Africa seven squad which contains a number of rugby union converts, as head coach Neil Powell and his management staff orchestrate their playing group ahead of August’s Rio de Janeiro Olympic games.

With rugby’s inaugural appearance at the games poised for Brazil, a wealth of interest has been garnered amongst some of the biggest names within the fifteen aside game.

However what some of these players were perhaps not expecting was the size of the challenge that awaited by the switch in codes, as the success of this ‘experiment’ so to speak has been varied.

Quade Cooper’s failure in making the Australian sevens squad has proven that natural ability and a proven skill-set will only get you so far. While a player of Sonny Bill Williams generational talent would seemingly have been a shoe-in to excel in the game, yet his performances in the Sevens circuit have been unspectacular with adaptation to fitness being a prevalent issue in the kiwi’s outings.

However Byran Habana has not had such difficulties as his previous sevens experience has come to the fore as the World-Cup winner has displayed his trademark acuteness and devastating speed throughout the season just gone.

Alongside Habana in the preliminary squad is Sharks number 8 Ryan Kankowski who can also owe his current success to previous experience having already been capped for the Blitzbokke on twenty occasions.

His call up is more than justified as he has played with verve and speed and shown remarkable agility in the open, adding to the depth and strength of the South African Sevens side.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 22: Ryan Kankowski of South Africa during the cup quarter final match between South Africa and Argentina on day 2 of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series London at Twickenham Stadium on May 22 in London, South Africa. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Alongside Kankowski and Habana are Juan de Jongh and Francois Hougaard with the former having come into the Blitzbokke side last year, alongside Kankowski, but was approached by Worcester Warriors to play for them during the latter part of their Premiership campaign.

He took their offer, on the condition that he would be able to continue his run with the Blitzbokke this year.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Ryan Kankowski and Francois Hougaard of South Africa stop Alefosio Tapili of Samoa during the match between South Africa and Samoa on day 1 of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series London at Twickenham Stadium on May 21, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Habana has currently put his Springboks responsibilities on hold with the aim of adding Olympic gold to his incredible and illustrious list of achievements in the game. However he is to convene with the Blitzbokke squad late due to his Toulon commitments, something which Neil Powell has hinted towards as a possible negative determinant when making his final decision.

The current squad is to be trimmed down from 19 to 12 in time for the Games which begin in August.

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Author: The PA Team

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