JOHANNESBURG – The Junior Springboks will have a solid build-up to the World Rugby Under-20 Championship – in the south of France from May 30 to June 17 – with four training camps and a UK tour planned to ensure that they are well prepared for the international spectacle.
The team’s preparations will kick off from Tuesday to Friday with the first of three four-day training camps in Stellenbosch – the last of which will conclude on March 30 – followed by a two-week camp in April and a UK tour in May. They will play five internationals in the lead-up to the tournament.
The first two matches will be against World Rugby Under-20 Championship pool opponents Georgia in Cape Town on back-to-back Fridays, April 13 and 20 respectively, while they will meet Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday, May 4, Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday, May 8, and England in London on Friday May 11 on their overseas tour.
“This preparation schedule is ideal to ensure that we arrive in France well prepared both mentally and physically for the Under-20 Championship,” said Roux. “By having four-day camps in February and March we will also avoid a situation where the FNB Varsity Cup players miss a few days of training due to their team commitments.
“We faced Georgia in Tbilisi in the pool stages of the Under-20 Championship last year and they have again been drawn in our pool this season, so the two encounters against them will be good preparation for both sides. They are physical and determined opponents, and these matches will give the players a good idea of what to expect in France.
“The UK tour will be equally important as the training schedule, the frequency of the matches and the tough competition on tour will be similar to that which the players will experience in France, especially with all three opposition teams also participating in the tournament.”
The training squad includes five capped Junior Springboks – Salmaan Moerat, Gianni Lombard, Wandisile Simelane, Rewan Kruger and Muller Uys – and 22 former SA Schools players, including prop Keagan Glade, centre Rikus Pretorius and lock JJ van der Mescht.
Another member of the 2017 Under-20 Championship squad, Damian Willemse, was also invited to the camp, but he is on tour with the DHL Stormers.
Roux said the door was open for players outside the group to play their way into the training squad: “We had to select a limited number of players for the first camp, so this group is by no means the only players we will be watching.
“We will continue to keep an eye on other players who perform well, so the group could change as our preparations continue.”
Junior Bok training squad for first camp (February 20 to 23):
Props: Cabous Eloff (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Keagan Glade (Xerox Golden Lions), Leon Lyons (DHL Western Province), Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Xerox Golden Lions), Sazi Sandi (DHL Western Province), Mornay Smith (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province), Tiaan van der Merwe (Xerox Golden Lions).
Hookers: PJ Botha (Xerox Golden Lions), Schalk Erasmus (DHL Western Province), Fezokuhle Mbatha (Cell C Sharks).
Locks: Luyolo Dapula (Eastern Province), Ben-Jason Dixon (DHL Western Province), Salmaan Moerat (DHL Western Province), PJ Steenkamp (Xerox Golden Lions), JJ van der Mescht (Cell C Sharks), Ruan Vermaak (Xerox Golden Lions).
Loose forwards: Phendulani Buthelezi (Cell C Sharks), Francke Horn (DHL Western Province), Shaine Orderson (DHL Western Province), Ryno Pieterse (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Erwart Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls), JC Pretorius (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Muller Uys (DHL Western Province).
Scrumhalves: Richman Gora (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Jack Hart (Xerox Golden Lions), Rewan Kruger (Toyota Free State).
Flyhalves: David Coetzer (DHL Western Province), Lubabalo Dobela (Toyota Free State), Johannes Steenkamp (Leopards).
Centres: Lyle Hendricks (DHL Western Province), Rikus Pretorius (DHL Western Province), Manuel Rass (Xerox Golden Lions), Wandisile Simelane (Xerox Golden Lions), Louritz van der Schyff (Xerox Golden Lions), Sango Xamlashe (Toyota Free State).
Outside backs: Christian Ambadiang (DHL Western Province), Muller du Plessis (Cell C Sharks), Tyrone Green (Xerox Golden Lions), Gianni Lombard (Xerox Golden Lions), Sihle Njezula (DHL Western Province), Sakoyisa Makata (DHL Western Province), Christiaan Strydom (Blue Bulls).
Junior Springbok training camp dates:
Camp 1 – 20-23 February (Stellenbosch)
Camp 2 – 6-9 March (Stellenbosch)
Camp 3 – 27-30 March (Stellenbosch)
Camp 4 – 10-25 April (Stellenbosch)
UK Tour – 30 April to 12 May
U20 Champs holding camp – 20-25 May (Stellenbosch)
World Rugby U20 Championship – May 30 to June 17 (France)