Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux warned his team to prepare for a physically demanding and attacking challenge from England U20 when they face off in the first of two games on their UK tour on Friday.
Roux made five personnel changes to the team that started against Argentina in their final U20 International Series match in Stellenbosch last week, for the encounter at Butts Park Arena in Coventry near Birmingham.
Two players with Vodacom Super Rugby experience, the Cell C Sharks duo of Fezokuhle Mbatha and JJ van der Mescht, will make their Junior Springbok on Friday, at hooker and lock respectively.
The other changes in the pack are at lock, where Emile van Heerden will start next to Van der Mescht, while Dylan Richardson will start in the loose trio next to SA U20 captainPhendulani Buthelezi and Francke Horn.
In the backline, Boeta Chamberlain will start at flyhalf in place of David Coetzer – who was ruled out of the tour due to a facial injury – while Thaakir Abrahams comes in at fullback for Andrew Kota, who has been named among the replacements.
Roux said they are expecting the hosts to pose a strong challenge: “England are a very physical team and they have an attacking mindset. They are also well coached, so we have to be ready for them and we have to match their physicality.”
According to the SA U20 coach, his charges need to make a step up with only two international friendlies left before they depart for Argentina for the World Rugby U20 Championship, which kicks off in June.
“With England being an attacking team I would like to see our defence hold well, and our scrums and lineouts will also be vital,” said Roux.
“We struggled a little in that regard in our last match, and hopefully they can provide good front-foot ball for the backs. I would also like to see us execute our plays effectively.
“We are still in the process of trying out player combinations, so we will give a few new players a chance in this game. That said there are still a few experienced players in the team, so this will be a good test.”
The match, which kicks off at 20h30 (SA time) on Friday, will streamed live on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xgiaWOtgQc (YouTube) and https://www.facebook.com/OfficialEnglandRugby/videos/322421335134580/(Facebook).
The Junior Springboks will take on Wales next on Tuesday, 30 April, at the Vale Resort outside Cardiff, before returning to South Africa for another training camp in Stellenbosch.
They will depart for Rosario on Wednesday, 29 May, for their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign where they will face Scotland (4 June), Georgia (8 June) and New Zealand (12 June) in the pool stages.
Junior Springbok team to face England:
15 – Thaakir Abrahams (Cell C Sharks)
14 – Marnus Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
13 – Jay Cee Nel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
12 – Rikus Pretorius (DHL Western Province)
11 – Caleb Dingaan (Cell C Sharks)
10 – Boeta Chamberlain (Cell C Sharks)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks)
8 – Francke Horn (DHL Western Province)
7 – Phendulani Buthelezi (captain – Cell C Sharks)
6 – Dylan Richardson (Cell C Sharks)
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 – Nkosikhona Masuku (Xerox Golden Lions)
16 – Dameon Venter (Xerox Golden Lions)
17 – Thabiso Mdletshe (Cell C Sharks)
18 – Hanro Jacobs (Cell C Sharks)
19 – Janko Swanepoel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
20 – Jaco Labuschagne (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
21 – Sibusiso Sangweni (Xerox Golden Lions)
22 – Andrew Kota (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
23 – Sanele Nohamba (Cell C Sharks)