DHL Stormers lock Salmaan Moerat will lead the Junior Springbok squad at the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France in June.
Moerat, who represented DHL Western Province at age-group level before establishing himself as a fine captain for both DHL Western Province U18 at the Coca-Cola U18 Craven Week and then the SA Schools team in 2016, made his DHL Stormers debut against the Highlanders in Dunedin earlier this year.
He will be one of 10 DHL Western Province players in the Junior Springbok squad that travels to France, with lock Ben-Jason Dixon, hooker Schalk Erasmus, hooker Daniel Jooste, centre Lyle Hendricks, wing Sihle Njezula, centre Rikus Pretorius, prop Sazi Sandi, loose forward Muller Uys and flyhalf Damian Willemse also named in the squad.
Moerat will have the support of Willemse, Wandisile Simelane, Uys, Gianni Lombard, Rewan Kruger and Jooste, all of whom were members of the 2017 squad that won the bronze medal in Georgia.
Adding to this experience, Willemse has been the DHL Stormers’ preferred flyhalf this season, while Moerat also made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut, and utility back Muller du Plessis represented the Springbok Sevens team in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
In total, 22 of the players in Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux’s 28-man squad also have junior international experience having represented the SA Schools or SA Schools A teams in the Under-18 International Series, while every player with the exception of lock Ruan Vermaak – who is recovering from a knee injury – featured in the warm-up matches against Georgia.
Roux spoke highly of Moerat and said: “Salmaan is a born leader. He led the DHL Western Province U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week team and the SA Schools team, and he did so with distinction.
“He has been equally influential at our training camps since the squad gathered in February, and all of the players have immense respect for him, so he was the natural choice as the captain.”
The Junior Springboks will continue their preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship with a three-match tour to the UK, following their 48-23 and 55-14 victories against Georgia, who they will face in their opening pool match at the World Rugby U20 Championship.
The SA U20s will meet Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday, 4 May, Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday, 8 May, and England in London on Friday 11 May on tour.
The team has been drawn in Pool C at the World Rugby U20 Championship, which runs from 30 May to 17 June. They will meet Georgia in their opening pool match on Wednesday 30 May, and then take on Ireland on Sunday, 3 June, and France on Thursday, 7 June in the pool stages.
Junior Springbok squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship (in alphabetical order):
Zak Burger – Cell C Sharks, scrumhalf
Ben-Jason Dixon – DHL Western Province, lock
Lubabalo Dobela – Toyota Free State, flyhalf
Muller du Plessis – Cell C Sharks, utility back
Schalk Erasmus – DHL Western Province, hooker
Tyrone Green – Xerox Golden Lions, wing
Jack Hart – Xerox Golden Lions, scrumhalf
Lyle Hendricks – DHL Western Province, centre
Daniel Jooste* – DHL Western Province, Hooker
Cohen Kiewit – Xerox Golden Lions, prop
Rewan Kruger* – Toyota Free State, scrumhalf
Gianni Lombard* – Xerox Golden Lions, fullback
Nathan McBeth – Xerox Golden Lions, prop
Salmaan Moerat (capt)* – DHL Western Province, lock
Sihle Njezula – DHL Western Province, wing
Ruan Nortje – Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock
Asenathi Ntlabakanye – Xerox Golden Lions, prop
Rikus Pretorius – DHL Western Province, Centre
Manuel Rass – Xerox Golden Lions, centre
Sazi Sandi – DHL Western Province, Prop
Dian Schoonees – Xerox Golden Lions, looseforward
Wandisile Simelane* – Xerox Golden Lions, centre
PJ Steenkamp – Xerox Golden Lions, looseforward
Alulutho Tshakweni – Eastern Province, prop
Muller Uys* – DHL Western Province, looseforward
Tiaan van der Merwe – Xerox Golden Lions, Prop
Ruan Vermaak – Xerox Golden Lions, lock
Damian Willemse* – DHL Western Province, flyhalf