Cape Town - A motivated Junior Springbok squad flew out of Cape Town to Italy on Wednesday where they will compete in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
The South Africans find themselves as one of the firm favourites after coming so close to beating England in a pulsating final last June in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Junior Boks travel to Italy for this year’s instalment of the tough Under-20 Championship buoyed by a good 2-0 away series victory over Argentina.
A fit and well-conditioned Junior Bok squad of 28 players will now attempt to become only the second South African team to lift the U20 Championship crown and thus following in the footsteps of the triumphant side of 2012.
On Tuesday, the team completed their home preparations for the three-week long competition on with a strenuous workout in Stellenbosch, before attending the traditional capping ceremony later in the evening.
Apart from the trials, the squad’s training camp of six weeks included two training matches against the Western Province Rugby Institute, a thrilling successful clash against a star-studded Varsity Cup Dream Team plus an away series against the formidable Los Pumitas.
Junior Bok coach Dawie Theron said the squad were excited and looking forward to get to Italy after the long and intensive training camp.
“The boys are rearing to go and we have a great team spirit,” said Theron. “They are in a very good conditioning shape and I am pleased with the amount of work we have done at our training base in Stellenbosch.”
The added it was important to approach the tournament in a good, positive mind-set. According to him, the tour to Argentina played a huge part in their mental preparation for the annual showpiece.
“We simulated our training and travelling activities according to our Italy tournament programme, so that we can ensure all of them have a proper understanding of the rigorous time that await them in Italy.
“This is a well-balanced squad, with powerful forwards and really quick backs, so the coaching staff are really looking forward to see them play against quality opposition. We go there with high expectations but fully aware that we will have to work extremely hard during a very competitive tournament,” said Theron.
The South Africans open their fixture list on Tuesday, 2 June when they will be in action against hosts Italy in the Stadio San Michele in Calvisano. Next up is Samoa on Saturday, 6 June in Parma before they return to Calvisano for their last Pool B match against Australia. The playoffs are scheduled for 15 and 20 June.
The Junior Springbok squad for the 2015 World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy:
Hyron Andrews (Sharks)
Rikus Bothma (Western Province)
Dan du Preez (Sharks)
Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks)
Thomas du Toit (Sharks)
Joseph Dweba (Free State Cheetahs)
Njabulo Gumede (Blue Bulls)
Jason Jenkins (Blue Bulls)
Hanro Liebenberg (Blue Bulls – captain)
Mzamo Majola (Sharks)
Ox Nche (Free State Cheetahs)
Abongile Nonkontwana (Blue Bulls)
RG Snyman (Blue Bulls)
Jan van der Merwe (Blue Bulls)
Frans van Wyk (Western Province)
Jacques Vermeulen (Western Province)
Tinus de Beer (Blue Bulls)
Daniel du Plessis (Western Province)
Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls)
Grant Hermanus (Western Province)
JT Jackson (Blue Bulls)
Malcolm Jaer (EP Kings)
Marco Jansen van Vuren (Golden Lions)
Khanyo Ngcukana (Western Province)
Brandon Thomson (Western Province)
Ivan van Zyl (Blue Bulls)
EW Viljoen (Western Province)
Leolin Zas (Western Province)