Olympic Games
Bryan Habana joins South Africa sevens training squad ahead of Rio 2016
ESPN Staff
November 4, 2015
© Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Bryan Habana had to settle for bronze at the Rugby World Cup but he could be going for gold at the Rio Olympics next year as part of South Africa's Sevens side.

The wing, who joined Jonah Lomu as the World Cup's all-time leading try-scorer, is among a number of the Springboks' senior XV-a-side players included in a Sevens training squad to be held later this month, the South African Rugby Union announced.

Habana, who touched down for his 15th World Cup try against the USA in October, joins team-mate Damian de Allende in turning his attention to the Olympics as rugby returns to the Games.

Other Test players in the Sevens training squad are Juan de Jongh, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Ryan Kankowski, Oupa Mohoje, Lwazi Mvovo and Warren Whiteley as SARU make a clear statement about their ambitions in Rio.

Habana has earned 117 caps at XVs, but he has played Sevens having appeared in two tournaments for the Blitzbokke when he broke into world rugby in 2004.

"The announcement of this group is a significant achievement for us and it is the culmination of a lot of hard work behind the scenes," SARU chief executive Jurie Roux said.

"The forthcoming season is the most important in the history of Sevens rugby. The new, expanded World Series and the Olympic Games are two huge challenges and we at SARU want to make sure we give our Springbok Sevens team the best possible chance of success."

Several of the biggest names in rugby are expected to appear at the Olympics, with New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams and Australia's Quade Cooper targeting gold after the two nations met in last weekend's World Cup final.

Hougaard and Kankowski have signed up to the Sevens cause for the whole 2016 season, opting against appearing in Super Rugby to help coach Neil Powell build a team from early in the year.

"The signing of players such as Francois Hougaard and Ryan Kankowski is a real coup for us," Roux added. "It means they will focus solely on the seven-a-side game in the coming season, bringing their unique skill sets that our sevens department has identified as being ideal for the code."

The Rio Olympics will feature Sevens for the first time, after the XV-man game was played in four previous Olympics - most recently in 1924, when the United States won gold.

South Africa Sevens training squad: Cecil Afrika, Tim Agaba, Ryno Benjamin, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Carel du Preez, Damian de Allende, Stephan Dippenaar, Chris Dry, Juan de Jongh, Justin Geduld, Warrick Gelant, Lungelo Gosa, Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Frankie Horne, Dewald Human, Ryan Kankowski, Werner Kok, Cheslin Kolbe, Jaco Kriel, Oupa Mohoje, Lwazi Mvovo, Sibahle Maxwane, Ruhan Nel, Sandile Ngcobo, Sphamandla Ngcobo, Seabelo Senatla, Philip Snyman, Kwagga Smith, Rosko Specman, Warren Whiteley.

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