The testing of player combinations will be one of Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux’s main goals for the U20 International Series, which kicks off against Georgia’s Under-20s at Paarl Gymnasium on Tuesday.
Roux named six capped Junior Springbok players in his 28-man squad for the match, in Rikus Pretorius, David Coetzer and Asenathi Ntlabakanye, who are in the starting XV, and Phendulani Buthelezi, Nkosikhona Masuku and David Kriel, who were named among the replacements.
All six of them featured for the SA U20s last year, although Masuku and Kriel did not travel to the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France.
The new law trials make provision for match-day squads of 28 players, although only eight of the replacements can be used on the day.
Argentina – hosts of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Rosario and Sante Fe from 4 to 22 June – will meet a senior Namibia XV in the opening match of the U20 International Series at Paarl Gymnasium at 14h15 before the Junior Springboks take on Georgia at 16h00.
With Roux’s team set to face Georgia in their second World Rugby U20 Championship pool match on Saturday, 8 June, this encounter will offer the players a taste of what to expect in Rosario.
Roux was pleased with the prospect of naming an expanded squad and said: “Team selection was not very difficult because 30 players were in camp and we could select 28 of them according to the new law trials.
“The main thing for us in this game will be to see which player combinations work the best, and if we are on the right track in terms of our tactical play.”
Roux expected a tough test from the physical Georgian outfit, and said: “If we are not ready for this challenge it is going to be a rude awakening.
“Georgia did very well in the World Rugby U20 Championship last year and their rugby is improving. They also have a great scrum and pack of forwards, which they base they game plan on, so it is going to be a real test for our guys, and we need to be ready for it.”
Commenting on what he would like to achieve from the match other than trying out player combinations, Roux said: “We have worked on a few aspects of our game this year, and our kicking game and defence is a little bit different to what we have done in the past, so we would like to track our progress in that regard in particular.”
The Junior Springboks will meet the Namibia XV in the second round of the U20 International Series at Tygerberg Rugby Club in Cape Town on Saturday, 13 April, and Argentina in the final round on Wednesday, 17 April, at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch.
All three rounds of matches will be streamed live on DSTV Now, SS YouTube and SS.com.
The Junior Springboks will face England and Wales on a warm-up tour to the UK after the U20 International Series where their preparations will continue for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
Roux’s team will open up their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign against Scotland on Tuesday, 4 June, before taking on Georgia (Saturday, 8 June) and New Zealand (Wednesday, 12 June). The semi-finals will be contested on Monday, 17 June, and the final on Saturday, 22 June.
Junior Springbok squad to face Georgia U20:
15 – Qamani Kota (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
14 – Caleb Dingaan (Cell C Sharks)
13 – Mnombo Zwelendaba (DHL Western Province)
12 – Rikus Pretorius (DHL Western Province)
11 – Thaakir Abrahams (Cell C Sharks)
10 – David Coetzer (DHL Western Province)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks)
8 – Francke Horn (captain – DHL Western Province)
7 – Celimpilo Gumede (Cell C Sharks)
6 – Sibusiso Sangweni (Xerox Golden Lions)
5 – Elrigh Louw (Toyota Free State)
4 – Lunga Ncube (Cell C Sharks)
3 – Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Xerox Golden Lions)
2 – Dameon Venter (Xerox Golden Lions)
1 – Kudzwai Dube (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
16 – Joe van Zyl (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
17 – Hanro Jacobs (Cell C Sharks)
18 – Nkosikhona Masuku (Xerox Golden Lions)
19 – Janko Swanepoel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
20 – Jaco Labuschagne (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
21 – Evan Roos (Cell C Sharks)
22 – Vusile Dlepu (DHL Western Province)
23 – Sabastiaan Jobb (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
24 – Phendulani Buthelezi (Cell C Sharks)
25 – James Mollentze (Toyota Free State)
26 – Jay Cee Nel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
27 – Marnus Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
28 – David Kriel (DHL Western Province)