The South Africa Under-20 team to face the United States in their first match of the IRB Junior World Championship 2013 will be captained by Vodacom Blue Bulls loose forward Ruan Steenkamp, who continues the trend of Vodacom Blue Bulls junior players to lead the Junior Springboks in the JWC.
Steenkamp follows in the footsteps of Wiaan Liebenberg (2012), who in turn succeeded Arno Botha. CJ Stander was another to lead his country at Under-20 level, whilst Gerrit-Jan van Velze and Dewald Potgieter also took the reins at junior national level.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls junior structures are bearing heaps of fruit at the moment. No less than 11 of their Under-20 group find themselves in France as part of the Junior Boks, but the likes of Arno Botha and Jan Serfontein are amongst the 12 Vodacom Bulls players in the Springbok squad to play in the Castle Lager Incoming Series.
Two recent JWC graduates, Sampie Mastriet and Shaun Adendorff is also part of the Springboks Sevens training squad preparing for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow later this month.
Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd CEO Barend van Graan congratulated all the national representatives and also complimented the structures at the union.
“One of our missions as a rugby entity is to develop the human capital and player potential and the fact that more than two dozen of our players are being recognized by the various national coaches indicate that we are doing something right. We are very proud of the fact that we can consistently produce international players and we would like to congratulate all of them on their selections and wish them well in their teams. We know it will go well,” Van Graan said.
High Performance Manager at the BBC, Xander Janse van Rensburg, feels that the positive outcomes from their junior programmes will benefit the union long term and especially short term, where the departure of a number of senior players is imminent.
“We are losing some experienced players, but our vision of contracting the best young talent out there will hopefully offset that loss. We are already seeing the product of our youth policy, with 20 and 21 year old Bulls players being selected to play for the Springboks.
Last year, our under-20 players were instrumental in the Junior Boks winning the Junior World Championship, our Under-21’s won the Absa Provincial Championship and our Under-19 team lost in the final. If this is not proof of a system working well, I don’t know what is.”
•Steenkamp will captain the Junior Boks and Handrè Pollard was selected at inside centre for their opening JWC clash.
The team is:
The SA Under-20 team to face the United States at 20:45 at La Roche-sur-Yon:
15. Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province)
14. Luther Obi (Leopards)
13. Justin Geduld (SARU contracted)
12. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
11. Seabelo Senatla (SARU contracted)
10. Robert du Preez (The Sharks)
9. Stefan Ungerer (The Sharks)
8. Ruan Steenkamp (Vodacom Blue Bulls, captain)
7. Jacques du Plessis (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
6. Roelof Smit (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
5. Dennis Visser (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
4. Irné Herbst (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
3. Luan de Bruin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
2. Jacques du Toit (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
1. Andrew Beerwinkel (Vodacom Blue Bulls
16. Michael Willemse (DHL Western Province)
17. Sti Sithole (DHL Western Province)
18. Aidon Davis (EP Kings)
19. Kwagga Smith (MTN Golden Lions)
20. Hanco Venter (The Sharks)
21. Dries Swanepoel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
22. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
23. Marné Coetzee (The Sharks)