Junior Boks name team to face Fiji in World U20s opener

Jun 27 • BabyBoks U20, General News, International, National, South Africa, South Africa, World Rugby Junior Championship • 52 Views • Comments Off on Junior Boks name team to face Fiji in World U20s opener

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The Junior Springboks have included three uncapped players, namely hooker Luca Bakkes, flyhalf Liam Koen and outside back Likhona Finca, in their match day squad for their World Rugby Under-20 opening match against Fiji at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. The encounter kicks off at 19h00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Bakkes will make his run-on debut and packs down in the front row between props Ruan Swart and Zachary Porthen, the Junior Bok captain, while Finca is set to make his debut off the bench should he be sent on as an outside back replacement. Koen will wear the No 10 jersey.

Otherwise, the rest of the Junior Boks have a settled look with the rest of the starting line-up and replacement bench consisting of players who participated in the recent SANZAAR Under-20 Rugby Championship in Queensland, Australia.

The starting line-up has five changes and a positional switch from the run-on side that beat Argentina in the last Rugby Championship match at the Sunshine Coast Stadium in Queensland, while there are several tweaks among the reserves.

Apart from Bakkes’ inclusion in the front row in place of Juan Smal, there is also a change at No 4 lock, with Thomas Dyer sitting out because of a niggle and the versatile Bathobele Hlekani moves from the side of the scrum to form the lock partnership with JF van Heerden.

Thabang Mphafi, who played off the bench against Argentina U20s, fills Hlekani’s position at No 7 flank, with Siba Mahashe (No 6) and Tiaan Jacobs (No 8) the rest of the loose forwards.

Liam Koen also debuts as the playmaker and he partners scrumhalf Asad Moos in a new-look halfback pairing.

The only other backline change sees Michail Damon in the fullback position, in place of Bruce Sherwood who donned the No 15 jersey in their previous match.

Junior Bok coach Bafana Nhleko said the team has worked hard over the past week and worked on the lessons from the Rugby Championship in Australia, and they are ready to meet the challenge of Fiji on Saturday.

“We had a good holding camp in Stellenbosch last week and, since our move to our tournament base in Green Point on Tuesday, the focus has been on fine-tuning preparations,” Nhleko said.

Fiji come into the tournament as a well-oiled combination because of their recent success in the Oceania tournament over fellow Pacific neighbours Tonga, Moana Pasifika and Samoa.

“Fiji are a team with threats all round the park, big strong boys with excellent balls skills and dangerous with ball in hand. You need to be on it for 80 minutes, concentration wise, to deal with their threats.

“For us, it’s about excelling in our fundamentals, maintaining our strengths around playing from set piece and being in a position to make the right decisions when there are opportunities. The contact area behaviours will be key on both sides of the ball.” Nhleko said.

The match is the first of three Pool C matches for the SA Under 20s, whose other group games are against Argentina and England.

Meanwhile, the squad also had to make three replacements because of recent injuries. Prop Reno Hirst, lock Adam de Waal and fullback JC Marsh will all miss the Championship through injury.

Hirst hurt his knee; De Waal has been ruled out with a hip injury while concussion means Mars will miss at least the first two matches. Their replacements are Herman Lubbe (prop, DHL WP), Jaco Grobbelaar (lock, Vodacom Bulls) and Hassiem Pead (fullback, DHL WP).

“It’s unfortunate when injuries happen especially for guys like Adam and Reno, who worked so hard (from previous injuries) to give themselves a shot at the competition, but it is part of the game, we wish them a speedy recovery,” said Nhleko.

“JC could still feature later in the competition and potentially, has next year as well. In the same breath, it’s great to welcome Hassiem back to the squad and Jaco, who missed the Australia tour due to injury – congratulations to both and we are excited to see their growth.”


Junior Boks team vs Fiji, Saturday, 29 June at the Cape Town Stadium:

15 Michail Damon

14 Joel Leotlela

13 Jurenzo Julius

12 Joshua Boulle

11 Litelihle Bester

10 Liam Koen

9 Asad Moos

8 Tiaan Jacobs

7 Thabang Mphafi

6 Sibabalwe Mahashe

5 JF van Heerden

4 Bathobele Hlekani

3 Zachary Porthen (captain)

2 Luca Bakkes

1 Ruan Swart



16 Juan Smal

17 Liyema Ntshanga

18 Casper Badenhorst

19 Keanu Coetsee

20 Divan Fuller

21 Ezekiel Ngobeni

22 Tylor Sefoor

23 Likhona Finca

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