Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko on Friday named an exciting squad for the second leg of the SA Rugby Academy season, which features the U20 International Series, with Jordan Hendrikse (flyhalf) and George Cronje (No 8) among the headline players.
The first leg of the Academy, which kicked off early in April, concluded on Friday, and a reduced squad of 28 players will assemble at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Sunday, 6 June, for the second phase of the programme.
This will feature matches between the Junior Springboks, Argentina, Georgia and Uruguay between Friday, 18 June, and Saturday, 3 July.
All the players who take the field in the series will make their Junior Springbok debuts following the cancellation of the World Rugby U20 Championships in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several players, however, represented the SA Schools team in the Under-18 International Series in 2019. They are Bobby Alexander (scrumhalf); Tyler Bocks, Zeilinga Strydom, Henco van Wyk (all centres); Cronje; Dylan de Leeuw, Simon Miller (both locks); Blaine Golden, Sibusiso Shongwe, Jan Hendrik Wessels (all props); Jacques Goosen, Andre-Hugo Venter (both hookers); and Siyemukela Ndlovu (flanker).
Hendrikse, Izan Esterhuizen (flank), and Raynard Roets (lock), meanwhile, represented the SA Schools A team in the competition that season.
Unfortunately for Nhleko, Mnutngwa Mapantsela (wing), Keketso Morabe (flank), Okuhle Siyeni (prop) were all ruled out of the squad after suffering knee injuries.
The team will begin their U20 International Series campaign against Uruguay on Friday, 18 June, and will line up against Argentina on Wednesday, 23 June, and Georgia on Monday, 28 June.
“I would like to congratulate the players who have been selected,” said Nhleko. “It’s a great opportunity for them to make their mark by contributing to the team and our performance.
“We believe we have a well-balanced squad and are excited to see them perform on the field.”
Nhleko added: “All the boys worked hard, and the group got on really well, which always makes selection difficult.
“But now that there is clarity on the squad, we look forward to turning our focus to the international series.”
The other U20 International Series fixtures in the first three rounds of play will see Georgia being pitted against Argentina, Uruguay taking on Georgia, and Argentina battling it out with Uruguay respectively.
The teams will receive four log points for a win, two points for a draw, and a bonus point for scoring four tries or more or suffering a defeat by seven less points or less.
The series will culminate in a thrilling closing round with the top two ranked teams and bottom two sides respectively meeting on Saturday, 3 July.
SA Rugby Academy squad (in alphabetical order):
Bobby Alexander (DHL Western Province, scrumhalf)
Dalvon Blood (DHL Western Province/ SA 7’s, fullback)
Tyler Bocks (Lions, centre)
George Cronje (Toyota Cheetahs, No 8)
Dylan de Leeuw (DHL Western Province, lock)
Izan Esterhuizen (Lions, flank)
Curwin Gertse (Cell C Sharks, wing)
Blaine Golden (Cell C Sharks, prop)
Jacques Goosen (Cell C Sharks, hooker)
Jordan Hendrikse (Lions, flyhalf)
Ethan James (DHL Western Province, centre)
Reinhardt Ludwig (Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock)
Simon Miller (DHL Western Province, flank)
Mnqobi Mkhize (Cell C Sharks, centre)
Sacha Mngomezulu (DHL Western Province, flyhalf)
Canan Moodie (Vodacom Blue Bulls, centre)
Rynard Mouton (Vodacom Blue Bulls, flank)
Siyemukela Ndlovu (Lions, flank)
Siyambuka Ningiza (Cell C Sharks, flank)
Nolan Pienaar (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Raynard Roets (Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock)
Sibusiso Shongwe (Lions, prop)
Nico Steyn (Lions, scrumhalf)
Zeilinga Strydom (Lions, centre)
Henco van Wyk (Lions, centre)
Andre-Hugo Venter (DHL Western Province, hooker)
Corne Weilbach (DHL Western Province, prop)
Jan Hendrik Wessels (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)