CAPE TOWN - Junior Springbok lock Salmaan Moerat says they won’t underestimate any opposition going into their World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Georgia.
The 18-year-old Moerat, who comes from a family steeped in Western Cape rugby history, last year led Paarl Boys’ High to the number one schools ranking in South Africa as they went on a 32-match unbeaten run, and now he is looking forward to his first World Rugby Championship.
The 2016 SA Schools captain is one of six players in Chean Roux’s squad who represented the SA Schools team in the U19 International Series last season, and this time he is one of the many newbies in the Junior Bok squad for the tournament in Georgia, with only eight players having played in the tournament where the Junior Boks finished fourth in Manchester last year.
“I think we’ve prepared well and we’ve touched on what we wanted to touch on. Obviously there’s still some work to be done. But the excitement is really high, for most of us it’s our first world tournament. So we’re really looking forward to it. We’ll take it step by step and hopefully we can implement the things we’ve been working on,” Moerat said.
“We want to take it step by step. I think each game in itself is going to be tough. The French are always a good side, you can never underestimate them. The Georgians have got home-ground advantage and they’ll want to prove a point. And with Argentina it’s the same thing as with France, they’re a great side.”
The Junior Boks, who spent the week improving their structures in Stellenbosch before departing to Tbilisib on Thursday, will kick-off their campaign against France on May 31, before taking on Georgia and Argentina on June 4 and 8 respectively.
And the 115kg, two-metre tall Moerat, who can slot into both lock positions, says it’s a “massive privilege" to be part of the Junior Bok side.
“It’s a massive privilege and honour to be part of this side. It’s a massively talented group. I think we’ve got good individuals in the side, but at the end of the day it’s going to come down to team performance. Hopefully we can do well.”
Junior Bok squad: Juarno Augustus, Kwenzo Blose, Curwin Bosch, David Brits, Jean-Luc Cilliers, Zain Davids, Francois de Villiers, Stedman Gans, Johan Grobbelaar (vice-captain), Wikus Groenewald, Daniel Jooste, Rewan Kruger, Manie Libbok, Gianni Lombard, Len Massyn, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Salmaan Moerat, Reinhard Nothnagel, Embrose Papier, Yaw Penxe, Carlu Sadie, Wandisile Simelane, Hendre Stassen, Gerhard Steenekamp, Ruben van Heerden, Damian Willemse, Nama Xaba, Ernst van Rhyn (captain)
Junior Boks’ World Rugby U20 Championship fixtures (SA kick-off times):
Wednesday, 31 May: 1.30pm - SA v France
Sunday, 4 June: 4pm- SA v Georgia
Thursday, 8 June: 1.30pm - SA vs Argentina