The Junior Springboks will soon be off to the Junior World Championship in Georgia and with them lies the hope that this year the team will be able to come back with the title.
The team has a new coach in Chean Roux and he has also picked Ernst van Rhyn from Western Province to lead the team at the Championship. Van Rhyn was the vice captain last year and have a great ability to lead players.
The team is boosted by several players from last years squad that ended forth in the tournament with players like Van Rhyn, Curwin Bosch, Kwenzo Blose, Carlu Sadie, Zain Davids, Stedman Gans, Manie Libbok and Embrose Papier.
Roux also picked Salmaan Moerat, who captained the team, Gianni Lombard, Rewan Kruger, Wandisile Simelane, Damian Willemse and Daniel Jooste who was in the SA U19 side last year.
The squad have also players that boost Super Rugby and Sevens experience which all add to allot of believe in this team of youngsters to come out champions at the end.
The Junior Springboks depart for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Tbilisi on 25 May where they will face France, Georgia and Argentina in the pool stages of the competition. Unlike other tournaments, the U20 Championships have been high quality and not much to choose between the different nations.
England, Ireland and New Zealand have been the standouts over the past few years but the biggest thread seems to be from the New Zealanders again this year.
“We are pleased with the quality of the players in our squad and we believe the team has the potential to go all the way in the competition,” Roux told Sport24
“We had to make a number of tough calls to narrow down the group to 28 players, but we are confident that we have selected a squad worthy of competing against the best teams in the world in Georgia. A number of the players have experienced international age-group rugby either in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship or the Under-19 International Series, while others have been exposed to International Sevens and Vodacom Super Rugby, which will be invaluable in Georgia.”
Commenting on the selection of the captain, Roux spoke highly of Van Rhyn.
“Ernst is a hard worker on the field and has proved his worth as a leader in the last few seasons at the SA Schools team and the SA Under-20s last year,” the coach said. “A captain has to lead by example and ensure that there is cohesion in the team at all times, and these qualities will be vital in guiding us through the competition.”
Looking at the tournament in Georgia, Roux expected his team to be tested thoroughly, but he was pleased with their preparation up to now.
“We face France, Georgia and Argentina in the pool stages, so we have to be in top form from the outset to stay in a strong position to stake a claim for the trophy,” said Roux.
“That said we have been working very hard at training in the last two months to prepare both physically and mentally for what we can expect in Tbilisi and we hope that this will pay off. The important thing now will be to maintain the high intensity of our training sessions and to keep sharp before we depart for Georgia.”