Six of the eight players in the Junior Springbok squad that featured in the 2016 edition of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester will play in Chean Roux’s team’s tournament opener against France in Georgia on Wednesday.
Flyhalf Curwin Bosch, flankers Ernst van Rhyn – the team captain – and Zain Davids, fullback Manie Libbok, centre Stedman Gans and prop Carlű Sadie were all named in the starting line-up for Wednesday’s clash at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi. Another experienced SA U20 player, prop Kwenzo Blose, will start on the bench.
Bosch will link up with scrumhalf Rewan Kruger in the halfback pairing, while Van Rhyn and Davids will join forces with Juarno Augustus in the loose trio.
The lock combination of 2016 SA Schools captain Salmaan Moerat and Ruben van Heerden, and the front row of Sadie, fellow prop Gerhard Steenekamp and hooker Johan Grobbelaar will complete the pack.
In the backline, Gans and David Brits will occupy the midfield, with Yaw Penxe and Wandisile Simelane at wing.
“The experience the players will bring from last year will certainly be beneficial against France,” said Roux.
“They know what it is like to play for their country in front of a crowd and to sing the national anthem, and hopefully that experience will filter down to the other players making their debuts.
“We had a good idea about the team we wanted to select for this match since our holding camp in Cape Town, so it wasn’t that tough to select the starting side. But that said we have 28 very good players in the squad and any of them can play at any time.”
The coach expected a tough challenge against France, who finished in second position in the U20 Six Nations earlier this year, but he was confident in his team’s abilities.
“France are a physical side and they do not like to kick the ball much, so they will want to bring that French flair into their game. That means our defence has to be up to scratch and we need to put a lot of pressure on them,” said Roux.
The match against France will kick off at 13h30 SA time and we will broadcast live on SuperSport 1 (channel 201). The SA U20s will meet hosts, Georgia, in their second pool match on Sunday, and will round off the pool stages against Argentina on Wednesday, 8 June.
Junior Springbok team to face France in the World Rugby U20 Championship:
15 – Manie Libbok (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
14 – Yaw Penxe (EP Kings)
13 – Stedman Gans (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
12 – David Brits (DHL Western Province)
11 – Wandisile Simelane (Xerox Golden Lions)
10 – Curwin Bosch (Cell C Sharks)
9 – Rewan Kruger (Toyota Free State)
8 – Juarno Augustus (DHL Western Province)
7 – Ernst van Rhyn (captain – DHL Western Province)
6 – Zain Davids (DHL Western Province)
5 – Ruben van Heerden (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
4 – Salmaan Moerat (DHL Western Province)
3 – Carlű Sadie (DHL Western Province)
2 – Johan Grobbelaar (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
1 – Gerhard Steenekamp (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
16 – Kwenzo Blose (Toyota Free State)
17 – Daniel Jooste (DHL Western Province)
18 – Lee-Marvin Mazibuko (DHL Western Province)
19 – Hendre Stassen (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
20 – Nama Xaba (DHL Western Province)
21 – Francois de Villiers (Cell C Sharks)
22 – Damian Willemse (DHL Western Province)
23 – Gianni Lombard (Xerox Golden Lions)