Phendulani Buthelezi will lead the Junior Springbok World Rugby U20 Championship squad, which features four players who participated in the tournament last year, for the global showpiece in Argentina from 4 to 22 June.
Buthelezi (loose forward), Rikus Pretorius (centre) – who was named as the co-vice-captain with Francke Horn (No 8) – David Coetzer (flyhalf) and Asenathi Ntlabakanye (prop) are the four members of the squad that won the bronze medal at the 2018 edition of the event in the south of France.
The 28-man squad – consisting of 16 forwards and 12 backs – also includes Springbok Sevens player Angelo Davids, who played in in the Hong Kong and Singapore HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments, and Buthelezi’s Cell C Sharks’ Vodacom Super Rugby team-mates Fezokuhle Mbatha (hooker) and JJ van der Mescht (lock).
All of the players in the squad with the exception of Davids, Dian Bleuler (prop), Vaughen Isaacs (fullback), David Coetzer (flyhalf), David Kriel (utility back), Elrigh Louw (lock) andMnombo Zwelendaba (centre) travelled with the team to the UK last month for the warm-up matches against England and Wales.
Coetzer, Kriel, Louw and Zwelendaba all ran out for the side in the U20 International Series in April against Georgia, Argentina and the Namibia XV.
“We selected a squad that shows a good mix of players who have featured at a few different levels of the game, both at junior and senior level, as well as a number of talented young players,” said Roux.
“We had to make a few tough calls as always, but we had to select the players we thought have what it takes to compete against the best U20 players in the world.”
Roux was confident in his core leadership group and said: “Phepsi and Rikus were both members of our squad that played in France last year, so they know exactly what to expect on the field as well as off the field.
“The tournament involves a fair bit of time away from home and it is demanding on the players both physically and mentally, so it will be good to have leaders who can prepare their team-mates for this in advance.
“Francke also led the team with distinction in the role of both captain and vice-captain during our warm-up matches, and we are equally confident in his abilities as a leader.”
Roux’s team will wrap up their preparations for the international showpiece at their base in Stellenbosch in the next three weeks, with the team departing for Argentina on Wednesday, 29 May.
The Junior Springboks will be based in Rosario for the duration of the World Rugby U20 Championship where they will meet Scotland in their opening match on Tuesday, 4 June, before taking on Georgia (Saturday, 8 June) and New Zealand (Wednesday, 12 June) in their remaining pool matches.
The semi-finals will be contested on Monday, 17 June, and the final on Saturday, 22 June.
Junior Springbok squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship (in alphabetical order):
Thaakir Abrahams (Cell C Sharks; utility back)
Dian Bleuler (DHL Western Province; prop)
Phendulani Buthelezi (captain – Cell C Sharks; loose forward)
David Coetzer (DHL Western Province; flyhalf)
Angelo Davids (SA Rugby contracted; wing)
Caleb Dingaan (Cell C Sharks; wing)
Kudzwai Dube (Vodacom Blue Bulls; prop)
Celimpilo Gumede (Cell C Sharks; loose forward)
Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks; scrumhalf)
Francke Horn (vice-captain – DHL Western Province; No 8)
Vaughen Isaacs (Vodacom Blue Bulls; fullback)
Hanro Jacobs (Cell C Sharks; prop)
David Kriel (DHL Western Province; utility back)
Jaco Labuschagne (Vodacom Blue Bulls; loose forward)
Elrigh Louw (Toyota Free State; lock)
Fezokuhle Mbatha (Cell C Sharks; hooker)
Thabiso Mdletshe (Cell C Sharks; prop)
JJ van der Mescht (Cell C Sharks; lock)
James Mollentze (Toyota Free State; utility back)
Sanele Nohamba (Cell C Sharks; scrumhalf)
Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Xerox Golden Lions; prop)
Marnus Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls; utility back)
Rikus Pretorius (vice-captain – DHL Western Province; centre)
Dylan Richardson (Cell C Sharks; utility forward)
Sibusiso Sangweni (Xerox Golden Lions; loose forward)
Emile van Heerden (Cell C Sharks; lock)
Dameon Venter (Xerox Golden Lions; hooker)
Mnombo Zwelendaba (DHL Western Province; centre)