Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux made three changes to his starting team to face New Zealand in their World Rugby U20 Championship Pool C decider in Rosario on Wednesday, with Elrigh Louw, Sibusiso Sangweni and Thaakir Abrahams earning their first starts.
They replace Emile van Heerden, Celimpilo Gumede and Caleb Dingaan respectively in the starting XV for the vital clash at the Racecourse Stadium.
The winning team will gain automatic entry into the semi-finals as the Pool C leaders, while the losing team will have to rely on log points and possibly points’ difference to snap up the last semi-final spot.
The SA U20s are currently the top team in Pool C with a narrow one-point points’ difference over New Zealand after both sides won their opening two matches with bonus points.
“We had a look at the opposition, and made a few changes,” Roux said of his team selection. “It is important to give a few players a rest, but also to keep the players on form in the team, so that we have consistency.”
The coach expected a big battle against New Zealand and said: “It is going to be a tough game.
“They like to keep ball in hand and they have some exciting runners, so it will be the same as facing any typical New Zealand team, we need to be up for it and be ready for them.”
Roux hoped for a solid performance all round from his charges and said: “Hopefully our defence will be up to the task to put them under pressure, while we also need to win our first phases, as the scrums and lineouts are the foundation of any rugby game.
“If we can do that, I think we will be in with a good chance.”
Meanwhile, South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge will again hold the whistle in what marks the final pool round of the competition as he takes charge of the Pool B match between Italy and Ireland at the CRAI Club in Santa Fe.
Junior Springbok:15 Vaughen Isaacs (Blue Bulls), 14 Angelo Davids (SA Rugby contracted), 13 Marnus Potgieter (Blue Bulls), 12 Rikus Pretorius (vice-captain – Western Province), 11 Thaakir Abrahams (Sharks), 10 James Mollentze (Free State), 9 Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), 8 Phendulani Buthelezi (captain – Sharks), 7 Sibusiso Sangweni (Golden Lions), 6 Dylan Richardson (Sharks), 5 Elrigh Louw (Free State), 4 JJ van der Mescht (Sharks), 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions), 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha (Sharks), 1 Dian Bleuler (Western Province)
Replacements: 16 Dameon Venter (Golden Lions), 17 Kudzwai Dube (Blue Bulls), 18 Keagan Glade (Golden Lions), 19 Thabiso Mdletshe (Sharks), 20 Jaco Labuschagne (Blue Bulls), 21 Celimpilo Gumede (Sharks), 22 Zwelendaba Mnombo (Western Province), 23 Sanele Nohamba (Sharks), 24 Janko Swanepoel (Blue Bulls), 25 Emile van Heerden (Sharks), 26 Caleb Dingaan (Sharks), 27 David Coetzer (Western Province), 28 David Kriel (Western Province)
New Zealand Under-20s: 1.Ollie Norries, 2.Kianu Kereru-Symes (captain), 3.Fletcher Newell, 4.Cullen Grace, 5.Tupou Vaa’I, 6.Samipeni Finau, 7.Kohan Herbert, 8.Devan Flanders, 9.Leroy Carter, 10.Fergus Burke, 11.Leicester Faingaanuku, 12.Dallas McLeod, 13.Billy Proctor, 14.Etene Nanai-Seturo, 15.Cole Forbes.
Replacements: 16.Shilo Klein, 17.George Dyer, 18.Tamaiti Williams, 19.Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, 20.Taine Plumtree, 21.Kaylum Boshier, 22.Jeriah Mua, 23.Simon Parker, 24.Taufa Funaki, 25.Rivez Reihana, 26.Lalomilo Lalomilo, 27.Quinn Tupaea, 28.Scott Gregory.