Johannesburg - The Junior Springboks are ready for their second battle in as many weeks with New Zealand Under-20s when the two rivals meet on Sunday in a crunch IRB Junior World Championship semi-final at the QBE Stadium in Albany, Auckland.
Jesse Kriel, the Junior Boks' utility back, was declared ready and fit after leaving the field against Samoa because of a head blow. He was named in the starting line-up, which shows a number of expected changes for the last-four encounter with the tournament hosts.
Dawie Theron, the Junior Springboks coach, on Saturday named almost the same Junior Bok starting team which defeated New Zealand in their pool encounter at the same venue.
The return of Warrick Gelant at fullback sees Jesse Kriel shifting to outside centre alongside the strong-running Andre Esterhuizen, with his twin brother Dan moving to the bench. Long-striding Lloyd Greeff reclaims his right wing spot from Duhan van der Merwe.
Up front, Theron picked the front row of Thomas du Toit, Corniel Els and Dayan van der Westhuizen while the loose forward combination will be Jacques Vermeulen, Cyle Brink and Aidon Davis.
Handré Pollard will captain the team once more from the flyhalf position.
Theron and Pollard both cautioned that the young Kiwis will come out hard and determined to turn the tables in front of their home supporters.
“We have to be sharp and alert from the first whistle because New Zealand will play with great determination until the final whistle,” said Theron.
“We prepared well for this match but I know we can expect a huge battle. We have to be accurate, though, because it will be a close affair, and we will have to take our chances and make sure we defend well when they put us under pressure,” warned Theron.
Mike Ruddock's Ireland have made it to the last four for the first time since the tournament began in 2008, and they will face defending champions England in the first semi-final at the QBE Stadium in Albany, Auckland.
Along with the fifth-place play-off between Australia and Samoa, the JWC2014 semi-finals take place on Sunday at the QBE Stadium, with three of the other positional play-offs taking place at the ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe, about 50km south of Auckland.
The Junior Springbok team: Warrick Gelant, Lloyd Greeff, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Sergeal Petersen, Handré Pollard (captain), JP Smith, Aidon Davis, Cyle Brink, Jacques Vermeulen, Nico Janse van Rensburg, JD Schickerling, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Corniel Els, Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Joseph Dweba, Pierre Schoeman, Wilco Louw, Abongile Nonkontwana, Victor Sekekete, Zee Mkhabela, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Dan Kriel.
The match kicks off at 9.35am (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport. - Sapa