Phendulani Buthelezi will lead the Baby Boks at the World Rugby U20 Championship.Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux is confident that they have hit the right balance in their squad for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Argentina next month.

Phendulani Buthelezi will lead the squad that features four players who participated in the tournament last year. Buthelezi, Rikus Pretorius - who was named co vice-captain along with Francke Horn - David Coetzer and Asenathi Ntlabakanye were all part of the team that claimed the bronze medal at the 2018 edition of the event in the south of France.

The 28-man squad also includes new Blitzbok Angelo Davids.

All of the players in the squad, with the exception of Davids, Dian Bleuler, Vaughen Isaacs, David Coetzer, David Kriel, Elrigh Louw and Mnombo Zwelendaba, travelled with the team to the UK last month for warm-up matches against England and Wales.

Coetzer, Kriel, Louw and Zwelendaba all ran out for the side in the U20 International Series in April against Georgia, Argentina and a Namibia XV, though.

“We selected a squad that shows a good mix of players who have featured at a few different levels of the game, both at junior and senior level, as well as a number of talented young players,” said Roux. “We had to make a few tough calls as always, but we had to select the players we thought have what it takes to compete against the best U20 players in the world.”

Roux was also confident in his core leadership group: “Phepsi and Rikus were both members of our squad that played in France last year, so they know exactly what to expect on the field as well as off the field.

“The tournament involves a fair bit of time away from home and it is demanding on the players both physically and mentally, so it will be good to have leaders who can prepare their teammates for this in advance.

“Francke also led the team with distinction in the role of both captain and vice-captain during our warm-up matches, and we are equally confident in his abilities as a leader.”

The Junior Boks will wrap up their preparations for the international showpiece at their base in Stellenbosch in the next three weeks, with the team departing for Argentina on 29 May. They will meet Scotland in their opening match on 4 June, before taking on Georgia (8 June) and New Zealand (12 June) in their remaining pool matches.

Junior Springbok squad:

Thaakir Abrahams, Dian Bleuler, Phendulani Buthelezi, David Coetzer, Angelo Davids, Caleb Dingaan, Kudzwai Dube, Celimpilo Gumede, Jaden Hendrikse, Francke Horn, Vaughen Isaacs, Hanro Jacobs, David Kriel, Jaco Labuschagne, Elrigh Louw, Fezokuhle Mbatha, Thabiso Mdletshe, JJ van der Mescht, James Mollentze, Sanele Nohamba, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Marnus Potgieter, Rikus Pretorius, Dylan Richardson, Sibusiso Sangweni, Emile van Heerden, Dameon Venter, Mnombo Zwelendaba.

@WynonaLouw


Cape Times

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