Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux on Friday named a 30-member squad featuring six capped World Rugby U20 Championship players to tour Tbilisi, Georgia, from Wednesday, 27 November, to Thursday, 5 December, as part of the team’s preparations for the 2020 season.
The tour, which will feature matches against the Georgia Under-19 team on Monday, 2 December, and Thursday, 5 December, will replace the Under-18 and Under-19 assessment camps usually hosted by the Junior Springbok coaching staff with an eye on the selection of the Junior Springbok squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf), Emile van Heerden (lock), Celimpilo Gumede (looseforward), Zwelendaba Mnombo (centre), Sibusiso Sangweni (flanker) and Thabiso Mdletshe (prop) are the six players who represented the Junior Springboks in the World Rugby U20 Championship in Rosario, Argentina, earlier this year.
The squad includes another 11 players who were members of the SA Schools team that participated in the 2018 Under-18 International Series in the Western Cape against Wales, France and England. They are Adrian Alberts (lock) and Muzi Manyike (centre) – who were captain and vice-captain respectively – Stravino Jacobs (winger), Dewald Donald (prop), Hanro Jacobs (prop), Lunga Ncube (lock), Evan Roos (looseforward), Rynhardt Jonker (centre), JJ Kotze (hooker), Juan Mostert (flyhalf) and Thomas Bursey (scrumhalf).
“We decided to replace the U18 and U19 assessment camps with a combined SA U19 squad that will travel to Georgia and play two matches against their national side,” said Roux. “So this will serve as a fantastic opportunity for these players to prove themselves at this level.
“This tour is essentially the springboard for our Junior Springbok programme for 2020.
“That said, there will be opportunities for players who are not in this group to stake a claim a claim for places in the Junior Springbok squad next year, and over and above this, we will once again host the SA Rugby Academy programme, so while this is a good opportunity for these players, they are by no means the only ones we are looking at.”
Roux emphasised the importance of good planning to give the SAU20’s the best possible chance to lift the World Rugby U20 Championship trophy next year, and said: “This tour is part of our planning for the SAU20’s, and the fact that this is the first time we select a national U19 team since 2007 makes it particularly exciting.
“What is really nice about this tour is that it will expose the players to a higher level of rugby, so we can see if they are able to make their presence felt at this level, and we are pleased to see players from the Valke and Leopards, which are regarded as smaller unions, in the fold.”
The squad will gather at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Sunday, 24 November, to begin their preparations for the tour.
South Africa U19 squad (in alphabetical order):
Adrian Alberts (lock, Xerox Golden Lions)
Jason Alexander (hooker, DHL Western Province)
Diego Appollis (centre, Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Morne Brandon (hooker, Xerox Golden Lions)
Thomas Bursey (scrumhalf, DHL Western Province)
Werner Coetzee (lock, Cell C Sharks)
Dewald Donald (prop, Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Siphekahle Dube (prop, Cell C Sharks)
Werner Gouws (lock, Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Celimpilo Gumede (looseforward, Cell C Sharks)
Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf, Cell C Sharks)
Hanro Jacobs (prop, Cell C Sharks)
Stravino Jacobs (winger, Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Cohen Jasper (fullback, Toyota Free State)
Rynhardt Jonker (centre, Cell C Sharks)
Dawid Kellerman (centre, Vodacom Blue Bulls)
JJ Kotze (hooker, DHL Western Province)
Muzi Manyike (centre, Xerox Golden Lions)
Thabiso Mdletshe (prop, Cell C Sharks)
Zwelendaba Mnombo (centre, DHL Western Province)
Juan Mostert (flyhalf, DHL Western Province)
Benele Mthenjane (prop, Xerox Golden Lions)
Lunga Ncube (lock, Cell C Sharks)
Thabo Ndimande (flanker, Valke)
Evan Roos (looseforward, Sharks)
Sibusiso Sangweni (flanker, Xerox Golden Lions)
Keenan Twigg (winger, Leopards)
Bernard van der Linde (scrumhalf, Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Emile van Heerden (lock, Sharks)
Ethan Wentzel (flyhalf, Valke)