Salmaan Moerat will lead a Junior Springbok squad featuring seven players who participated in the World Rugby U20 Championship last year, from 30 May to 17 June in the south of France.
Moerat, who established himself as a fine captain for the SA Schools team in 2016, will have the support of Damian Willemse, Wandisile Simelane, Muller Uys, Gianni Lombard, Rewan Kruger and Daniel Jooste, all of whom were members of the 2016 SAU20 squad that won the bronze medal in Georgia.
Adding to this experience, Willemse has been the DHL Stormers’ preferred flyhalf this season, while Moerat also made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut, and utility back Muller du Plessis represented the Springbok Sevens team in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
In total, 22 of the players in Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux’s 28-man squad also have junior international experience having represented the SA Schools or SA Schools A teams in the Under-18 International Series, while every player with the exception of lock Ruan Vermaak – who is recovering from a knee injury – featured in the warm-up matches against Georgia.
“This is a talented squad with solid international experience, and we are confident in their abilities,” said Roux.
“We had to make a few tough calls, especially after the matches against Georgia, but we believe we have a squad worthy of competing against the best U20 teams in the world.
“One can never underestimate the value of playing international rugby at any level, so we are pleased that most of the players have worn the green and gold before for both the Junior Springboks and the SA Schools sides.”
Roux spoke highly of Moerat and said: “Salmaan is a born leader. He led the Western Province U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week team and the SA Schools team, and he did so with distinction.
“He has been equally influential at our training camps since the squad gathered in February, and all of the players have immense respect for him, so he was the natural choice as the captain.”
The Junior Springboks will continue their preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship with a three-match tour to the UK, following their 48-23 and 55-14 victories against Georgia, who they will face in their opening pool match at the World Rugby U20 Championship.
The SA U20s will meet Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday, 4 May, Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday, 8 May, and England in London on Friday 11 May on tour. They depart for the UK on Monday evening.
The team has been drawn in Pool C at the World Rugby U20 Championship, which runs from 30 May to 17 June. They will meet Georgia in their opening pool match on Wednesday 30 May, and then take on Ireland on Sunday, 3 June, and France on Thursday, 7 June in the pool stages.
Junior Springbok squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship (in alphabetical order):
- Zak Burger – Cell C Sharks, scrumhalf
- 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, wing
- Jack Hart – Xerox Golden Lions, scrumhalf
- Lyle Hendricks – DHL Western Province, centre
- Daniel Jooste* – DHL Western Province, Hooker
- Cohen Kiewit – Xerox Golden Lions, prop
- 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, wing
- 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
- Ruan Vermaak – Xerox Golden Lions, lock
- Damian Willemse* – DHL Western Province, flyhalf
*denotes 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship player
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