Cape Town - Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron has confirmed his starting line-up for their World Rugby Under-20 Championship opening clash on Tuesday against hosts Italy in Calvisano.
Number 8 Hanro Liebenberg will lead out a Junior Springbok match-23 sprinkled with several players who also took part in last year’s event in New Zealand, where they lost by a single point against defending champions England.
Theron stuck mainly to the combinations that earned his team a morale-boosting 2-0 series win over Los Pumitas last month in Argentina.
Sharks prop Thomas du Toit will anchor the scrum and is one of the players that will participate in his second successive tournament, as well as lock Abongile Nonkontwana (Blue Bulls) and Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks). Another survivor from last year, Joseph Dweba (hooker, Free State Cheetahs), will play off the bench.
Theron opted for a strong forward pack while the backline has a settled look.
Warrick Gelant is also returning for his second tournament in a row and the Springbok Sevens international starts in the No 15 jersey. Much is expected of the centre pairing of JT Jackson (Blue Bulls) and Daniel du Plessis (Western Province), in particular.
“This is a well balanced team and the squad is overall in good shape. We have done a lot of mental preparation for this match because Italy will come out fighting all the way,” said coach Theron.
Junior Springbok team to face Italy on Tuesday evening in Calvisano:
15. Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls)
14. Khanyo Ngcukana (Western Province)
13. Daniel du Plessis (Western Province)
12. JT Jackson (Blue Bulls)
11. Leolin Zas (Western Province)
10. Brandon Thomson (Western Province)
9. Ivan van Zyl (Blue Bulls)
8. Hanro Liebenberg (Blue Bulls, captain)
7. Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks)
6. Rikus Bothma (Western Province)
5. RG Snyman (Blue Bulls)
4. Abongile Nonkontwana (Blue Bulls)
3. Thomas du Toit (Sharks)
2. Jan van der Merwe (Blue Bulls)
1. Ox Nche (Free State Cheetahs)
16. Joseph Dweba (Free State Cheetahs)
17. Njabulo Gumede (Blue Bulls)
18. Frans van Wyk (Western Province)
19. Jason Jenkins (Blue Bulls)
20. Dan du Preez (Sharks)
21. Marco Jansen van Vuren (Golden Lions)
22. Tinus de Beer (Blue Bulls)
23. Malcolm Jaer (EP Kings)