DHL Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse and Springbok Sevens player Muller du Plessis will join the Junior Springboks in the UK after being named in Chean Roux’s 29-man squad for their warm-up tour in preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
The Junior Springboks will face Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday, 4 May, Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday, 8 May, and England in Worcester on Friday, 11 May.
Willemse, who earned five Junior Springbok caps in last year’s World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia, returned to the Cape franchise last week to fulfil his Vodacom Super Rugby duties after joining the SAU20s for the first week of the current training camp in Stellenbosch, while Du Plessis departed for the HSBC Singapore Sevens with the Blitzboks on Sunday.
Willemse will join the Junior Springboks in England for the final tour match, while Du Plessis will fly directly from Singapore to Edinburgh before of their opening match against Scotland.
The only new face in Roux’s squad, which will be led by lock Salmaan Moerat, is former SA Schools prop Nathan McBeth. Apart from McBeth and Willemse, all of the squad members featured in the warm-up matches against Georgia in Stellenbosch, which the Junior Springbok won 55-14 and 48-23 respectively.
“The UK tour is a vital cog in our preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship, as we will play three tough Tests against sides who will also be participating in the competition,” said Roux.
“Our squad has been together for four camps now, so the players know each other well on and off the field, but we believe this tour will bring them even closer together.
“Several players in the squad have never been overseas before, so it will also be good to see how they adapt to playing on foreign territory in front of passionate crowds.
“With regards to Damian and Muller, it is fantastic that they will join us on tour, and I would like to thank the DHL Stormers, in particular, for working with us in this regard as we build toward the U20 Championship.”
Commenting on McBeth’s inclusion, Roux said: “Nathan has been in SA Rugby’s junior structures for several years having coming through the SA Rugby Youth Weeks and SA Schools team, and he has played with most of the squad members at some point in his career, so it is good to have him the in the group. He also boasts Under-20 international experience after playing for Scotland in the U20 Six Nations, so he knows what to expect.”
The team will depart for Edinburgh on Monday, 30 May, and will return to SA on Sunday, 13 May. The Junior Springboks will face Georgia, Ireland and France in the pool stages of the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France, which runs from 30 May to 17 June.
Junior Springbok squad for UK Tour:
Zak Burger – Cell C Sharks, scrumhalf
Phendulani Buthelezi – Cell C Sharks, looseforward
Ben-Jason Dixon – DHL Western Province, lock
Lubabalo Dobela – Toyota Free State, flyhalf
Muller du Plessis – Cell C Sharks, utility back
Schalk Erasmus – DHL Western Province, hooker
Tyrone Green – Xerox Golden Lions, winger
Jack Hart – Xerox Golden Lions, scrumhalf
Lyle Hendricks – DHL Western Province, centre
Daniel Jooste – DHL Western Province, hooker
Cohen Kiewit – Xerox Golden Lions, prop
David Kriel – DHL Western Province, winger
Rewan Kruger – Toyota Free State, scrumhalf
Gianni Lombard – Xerox Golden Lions, fullback
Nathan McBeth – Xerox Golden Lions, prop
Salmaan Moerat (captain) – DHL Western Province, lock
Sihle Njezula – DHL Western Province, winger
Ruan Nortje – Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock
Asenathi Ntlabakanye – Xerox Golden Lions, prop
Rikus Pretorius – DHL Western Province, centre
Manuel Rass – Xerox Golden Lions, centre
Sazi Sandi – DHL Western Province, prop
Dian Schoonees – Xerox Golden Lions, looseforward
Wandisile Simelane – Xerox Golden Lions, centre
PJ Steenkamp – Xerox Golden Lions, looseforward
Alulutho Tshakweni – Eastern Province, prop
Muller Uys – DHL Western Province, looseforward
Tiaan van der Merwe – Xerox Golden Lions, prop
Damian Willemse – DHL Western Province, flyhalf