DHL Stormers lock and Former SA Schools captain Salmaan Moerat will lead the Junior Springboks in their first warm-up match, against Georgia at the Markötter Fields at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch on Friday, in the build-up to the World Rugby U20 Championship.
There are eight DHL Western Province players in the match 23, with wing Sihle Njezula, centre Rikus Pretorius, No.8 Muller Uys, prop Sazi Sandi and hooker Schalk Erasmus joining Moerat in the starting line-up, with backs Abner van Reenen and Lyle Hendricks on the replacements bench.
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux’s starting line-up includes five players who were members of the SA U20 team that finished third in the international spectacle in Tbilisi, Georgia, last year. They are Moerat, fullback Gianni Lombard, centre Wandisile Simelane, scrumhalf Rewan Kruger and No.8 Muller Uys.
The match-23 features a total of 12 former SA Schools players, with those outside of the capped Junior Springboks being props Sazi Sandi and Nkosikhona Masuku, looseforwards PJ Steenkamp, JC Pretorius and Phendulani Buthelezi, winger Sihle Njezula, and centre Rikus Pretorius.
With the clash being a fully-fledged international, the players that take to the field will earn Junior Springbok caps.
“We have a group of determined and competitive players in camp, which is exciting because everyone is keen to prove themselves for places in the final squad of 28 that will participate in the World Rugby U20 Championship,” said Roux.
“Georgia are tough opponents, so it is great to have a few players who were in last year’s squad to offer experience and guidance on the field. The SA schools experience will also be of great value to the players who are playing at this level for the first time, so we are excited to see what this squad can do.
“Unfortunately a few players in the expanded squad are nursing injuries, while Damian Willemse and Muller du Plessis are unavailable due to their commitments with the DHL Stormers and Blitzboks respectively, so this squad has been shaped by a number of factors. But we have another match against Georgia next week, and we hope to have some of them back.”
Roux said he is expecting a tough test against Georgia, who put up a brave fight against the Junior Boks on their home patch last year and said: “Georgia are a very physical side and they play with a lot of pride and passion, so we are expecting a big battle.
“That said, our players know what we expected of them, and they realise the importance of learning as much as possible from this experience, especially since we will face Georgia in our opening pool match in the U20 Championship in the south of France.
“Our greater goal, however, is to prepare as well as possible to stake a claim for the title in France, and every match we play is vital in this process.”
The match kicks off at 16h00 and entrance is free.
Junior Springbok team to face Georgia:
15 – Gianni Lombard (Xerox Golden Lions)
14 – Tyrone Green ((Xerox Golden Lions)
13 – Wandisile Simelane (Xerox Golden Lions)
12 – Rikus Pretorius (DHL Western Province)
11 – Sihle Njezula (DHL Western Province)
10 – Lubabalo Dobela (Toyota Free State)
9 – Rewan Kruger (Toyota Free State)
8 – Muller Uys (DHL Western Province)
7 – PJ Steenkamp (Xerox Golden Lions)
6 – Dian Schoonees (Xerox Golden Lions)
5 – Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
4 – Salmaan Moerat (captain – DHL Western Province)
3 – Sazi Sandi (DHL Western Province)
2 – Schalk Erasmus (DHL Western Province)
1 – Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province)
16 – PJ Botha (Xerox Golden Lions)
17 – Nkosikhona Masuku (Xerox Golden Lions)
18 – Cohen Kiewit (Xerox Golden Lions)
19 – JC Pretorius (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
20 – Phendulani Buthelezi (Cell C Sharks)
21 – Zak Burger (Cell C Sharks)
22 – Abner van Reenen (DHL Western Province)
23 – Lyle Hendricks (DHL Western Province)