Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron on Thursday named his team to face a combined Xerox Golden Lions Under-19 and Under-21 team in their first warm-up match.
The match will take place on Friday at Wits University and is the Junior Boks’ first fully-fledged encounter in the lead-up to the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester, England, from 7 to 25 June.
The starting line-up features the Vodacom Blue Bulls halfback combination of flyhalf Manie Libbok and scrumhalf Embrose Papier, while DHL Western Province locks Eduard Zandberg and Ruben de Villiers will join forces in the engine room.
The loose trio, meanwhile, features flanks Zain Davids and Ernst van Rhyn and No 8 Junior Pokomela, while captain and centre, Jeremy Ward, will join forces with Franco Naude in a hard-running centre combination.
In the front row hooker JH Campher will team up with props Kwenzo Blose and Nicolaas Oosthuizen, while the side also boasts firepower out wide with wings S’busiso Nkosi and Mosolwa Mafuma.
“We had three contact sessions (against the Western Province Rugby Institute and Western Province Academy) respectively in the last few weeks and that offered us a fantastic opportunity to see what the players have to offer in a match situation,” said Theron.
“We have now reached a stage where we want to test player combinations and hopefully develop a few key combinations in the process.
“Embrose Papier and Ruben de Villiers joined the training squad later than the other players, so this is the first time they will be in action for us, and I am excited to see how they slot in.
“We will play with a bench of 10 players, so we would like to give everyone a run with an eye on sharpening up our preparation and match fitness ahead of the showpiece.”
Utility back Curwin Bosch (hamstring) and lock Eli Snyman (lower leg) will not participate in the match as they are nursing niggling injuries, while scrumhalf James Hall is on Vodacom Super Rugby duty.
Theron said while the result of the match would be important, he was more focused on the implementation of their game plan against the Johannesburg side.
“Preparing for a tournament is a process, so our main focus at this stage is to implement our structures effectively and to test ourselves under pressure,” said Theron.
“One of the highlights of our first two contact sessions was that we did not concede any points, and I would like to see the players show the same commitment on defence, while at the same time capitalising on the chances we create on attack.”
The Junior Springboks will return to Cape Town on Friday after the match. The team will face Maties in Stellenbosch on Tuesday, 17 May in their second warm-up match at 18h00, which will be followed by a clash against SWD in Oudtshoorn on Saturday, 21 May.
Junior Springboks to face Xerox Golden Lions U19 and U21:
15 Keanu Vers, 14 S’busiso Nkosi, 13 Jeremy Ward (captain), 12 Franco Naude, 11 Mosolwa Mafuma, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Zain Davids, 5 Eduard Zandberg, 4 Ruben de Villiers, 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Kwenzo Blose. Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Franco van den Berg, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Jaco Holtzhausen, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Denzel Hill, 22 Marco Janse van Vuren, 23
JT Jackson, 24 Edwill van der Merwe, 25 Stedman Gans.
Issued by SA Rugby Corporate Affairs