Vaughen Isaacs (fullback), Angelo Davids (wing) and Dian Bleuler (prop) will make their Junior Springbok debuts in the World Rugby U20 Championship opener against Scotland at the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario on Wednesday, with another player, Keagan Glade (replacement prop), also set to earn his first cap if he takes to the field.
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux named a settled squad for the clash, featuring a number of tried-and-tested combinations, and he said his charges are raring to go.
It will not be Davids’ first taste of international rugby for South Africa through, as he made his Springbok Sevens debut earlier this year.
All 28 players in Argentina were named in the match-day squad, however, only eight players on the expanded bench will be allowed to take to the field as replacements.
“We were lucky enough to play with most of these combinations during our UK tour,” said Roux.
“A few players joined us after the tour, but we have been training for the last 10 days with the starting team in mind, so the combinations are working well.
“There is a lot of excitement in the group, and the players cannot wait to take to the field. We have been preparing for the tournament for a while now, so it time to get to down to business and start playing.”
Roux expected a tough test from Scotland, who will be equally determined to get their campaign off on a winning note, especially with only the top team in each of the three pools and the next best-placed team in terms of log points advancing to the semi-finals.
“Scotland are a well-drilled team,” said Roux.
“They were unlucky in one or two U20 Six Nations matches, so one cannot read too much into that tournament. Their preparation has been good coming into the competition, and they are a well-coached side, so we need to be up for the challenge come game time.”
Roux emphasised the importance of a solid foundation up-front for the team to get the international showpiece off to a good start and said: “We have worked hard on set phases, so hopefully we will be able to execute that well and give our backs a good platform to attack from. It is also vital to take our point-scoring chances when they arise.”
The Junior Springboks will face Georgia in their second pool match on Saturday, 8 June, and will wrap up the pool stages against New Zealand on Wednesday, 12 June. Both matches will be played at the Racecourse Stadium.
Meanwhile, South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge will also be in action at the World Rugby U20 Championship on Wednesday as an assistant referees for the matches between New Zealand and Georgia, and England and Ireland respectively at the CRAI Club in Santa Fe.
Junior Springbok team to face Scotland:
15 – Vaughen Isaacs (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
14 – Angelo Davids (SA Rugby contracted)
13 – Marnus Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
12 – Rikus Pretorius (vice-captain – DHL Western Province)
11 – Caleb Dingaan (Cell C Sharks)
10 – James Mollentze (Toyota Free State)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks)
8 – Francke Horn (vice-captain – DHL Western Province)
7 – Phendulani Buthelezi (captain – Cell C Sharks)
6 – Jaco Labuschagne (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
5 – Emile van Heerden (Cell C Sharks)
4 – JJ van der Mescht (Cell C Sharks)
3 – Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Xerox Golden Lions)
2 – Fezokuhle Mbatha (Cell C Sharks)
1 – Dian Bleuler (DHL Western Province)
16 – Dameon Venter (Xerox Golden Lions)
17 – Kudzwai Dube (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
18 – Keagan Glade (Xerox Golden Lions)
19 – Thabiso Mdletshe (Cell C Sharks)
20 – Elrigh Louw (Toyota Free State)
21 – Dylan Richardson (Cell C Sharks)
22 – David Kriel (DHL Western Province)
23 – Sanele Nohamba (Cell C Sharks)
24 – Celimpilo Gumede (Cell C Sharks)
25 – David Coetzer (DHL Western Province)
26 – Zwelendaba Mnombo (DHL Western Province)
27 – Sibusiso Sangweni (Xerox Golden Lions)
28 – Thaakir Abrahams (Cell C Sharks)