Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko named Lions flanker Siyemukela “Sasko” Ndlovu as captain for his side’s opening clash in the U20 International Series against Uruguay in Stellenbosch on Friday, with a bunch of former SA Schools players graduating to the next level.
No less than of seven players in the starting team represented the SA Schools and SA Schools A sides in 2019, but with no junior international rugby in 2020, all of Nhleko’s selections for this match, which kicks off at 15h00 at Markötter Stadium, will debut for South Africa at Under-20 level.
Ndlovu is amongst them, with Tyler Bocks (centre), Izan Esterhuizen (No 8), Dylan de Leeuw (lock), Raynard Roets (lock) Blaine Golden (prop) and Jacques Goosen (hooker) all former team-mates of the flanker.
Nhleko indicated that this match-day squad were selected with their pending matches against Argentina and Georgia taken into consideration, while their sole focus has been the first match of the campaign.
“We decided on these combinations for a number of reasons,” said Nhleko.
“There is a short turn-around between matches and player management will be important, so we will need fresh legs against Argentina early in the week. A number of players are earmarked to get a first start then.”
“This starting team will be match ready. Many of them formed part of the SA Rugby Academy that played a number of matches in recent weeks, and they know and understand each other, which was an important part of our thinking.
“It will be important for us to get a good start to set the tone and standard and these combinations should be able to provide us with that,” he added.
Ndlovu, a former Northwood High School learner who represented the Cell C Sharks at Youth Week level, said the opportunity to get back into top class action, will be a huge motivating factor for the squad.
“We are facing the best Uruguay can offer and will need to respond accordingly,” said Ndlovu.
“Our guys are really hungry to play. We want to go out there and represent our country and make them proud of us. We are defending their honour. We have been training very hard for this and the time has come, thankfully, for us to apply of that on the field.”
Tournament rules allow for squads to have all their non-starting players on the bench; however, a front row must be nominated before the match and only eight players can be replaced in total.
The Junior Boks will play Argentina on Wednesday, 23 June and Georgia on Monday 28 June. The tournament concludes with a last round of matches on Saturday, 3 July where the top two sides and the bottom two teams will play each other respectively.
- Quan Horn (Lions)
- Canan Moodie (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
- Ethan James (DHL Western Province)
- Tyler Bocks (Lions)
- Curwin Gertse (Cell C Sharks)
- Brandon Wilkie (Cell C Sharks)
- Bobby Alexander (DHL Western Province)
- Izan Esterhuizen (Lions)
- Reinhardt Ludwig (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
- Siyemukela Ndlovu (Lions, captain)
- Dylan de Leeuw (DHL Western Province)
- Raynard Roets (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
- Blaine Golden (Cell C Sharks)
- Jacques Goosen (Cell C Sharks)
- Nolan Pienaar (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Andre-Hugo Venter (DHL Western Province), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Corné Weilbach (DHL Western Province) – (nominated front row), Simon Miller (DHL Western Province), Rynard Mouton (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Siyambuka Ningiza (Cell C Sharks), George Cronje (Toyota Cheetahs), Bradley Davids (Cell C Sharks), Kian Meadon (Cell C Sharks), Mnqobi Mkhize (Cell C Sharks), Dalvon Blood (DHL Western Province).