SA Rugby has named a squad of 26 to represent the country in the IRB Under-19 World Championships to be held in Durban in April.

Commenting on the selection, SA Rugby CEO Johan Prinsloo said it was significant that 12 of the players were black, indicating that the rugby governing body's transformation plans were on track.

"I am excited about the fruits of the tranformation work we have done over the years," said Prinsloo. "All the players were chosen on merit. It's a very significant step for rugby in South Africa, and it should signal our determination to transform the game. This is the highest percentage of black players we have had in a national team, with two more players than we had in the team that won the IRB under-19 World Championship in 2003.

"We regard the SA under-19 team as a critical point of entry for players who aspire to be members of our various national squads. Many of them may end up being Springboks one day, if they take their careers seriously enough."

In the envisaged starting line-up, eight of the players are black.

The 2005 squad features six boys who campaigned in the same competition last year. They are Allister Hargreaves (captain), Jody Rose (vice-captain), Andisa Gqobo, Hilton Lobberts, Mahlatse Ralepele and Richardt Strauss.

Coach Eugene Eloff said he was thrilled with the class of 2005. "It's really exciting to see the level of commitment among the boys. They all knew they had to compete for a place, and gave their all, in an environment of hard work and fun. They are determined to represent their country and we must all support them."

Full squad: 1. Andisa Gqobo (Blue Bulls), 2. Hilton Lobberts (Blue Bulls), 3. Luvuyo Mhlobiso (Blue Bulls), 4. Mahlatse Ralepele (Blue Bulls), 5. Henju Van Niekerk (Blue Bulls), 6. Jan Volschenk (Blue Bulls), 7. Jerome Williams (Blue Bulls), 8. Marlon Lewis (Eastern Province), 9. Zander De Kock (Falcons), 10. Francois Steyn (Free State), 11. Richardt Strauss (Free State), 12. Randall April (Golden Lions), 13. Yssel Swanepoel (Golden Lions), 14. Francois Uys (Golden Lions), 15. Petrus Vermeulen (Griquas), 16. Allister Hargreaves (Captain - Kwa-Zulu Natal), 17. Johan Snyman (Kwa-Zulu Natal), 18. Johan Strauss (Kwa-Zulu Natal), 19. Jakobus Janse Van Rensburg (South Western Districts), 20. Warren Malgas (South Western Districts), 21. Ricardo Croy (Western Province), 22. Deon Fourie (Western Province), 23. Shandre Frolick (Western Province), 24. Pieter Myburgh (Western Province), 25. Jody Rose (Vice-Captain N Western Province), 26. Jowayne Van Wyk (Western Province). - Sapa