Cape Town - Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron has made six changes to his starting team to face England in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship semi-final at the Academy Stadium in Manchester, England, on Monday.
Powerful wing S’busiso Nkosi and exciting scrumhalf Embrose Papier were ruled out of the clash due to thigh and ankle injuries respectively, while Theron named a new front row and recalled vice-captain Ernst van Rhyn to the starting line-up in place of Cobus Wiese.
Nkosi suffered a thigh injury at training, while Papier damaged ankle ligaments after his foot was caught in another player’s boot at training on Saturday.
The other changes see the Eastern Province duo of prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen and hooker Tango Balekile join forces with Vodacom Blue Bulls prop Jaco Holtzhausen in the front row, which resulted in Franco van den Berg, Jan-Henning Campher and Carlü Sadie dropping to the bench.
In the other changes among the replacements, lock Eduard Zandberg takes over from Van Rhyn and Wiese replaces Denzel Hill.
“We were unfortunate in the last few days with regards to injuries,” said Theron. “Carlü Sadie hurt his ankle and Franco van den Berg had a bad contusion to his leg, so they were unable to train. But fortunately they are ready to play off the bench. We also lost S’busiso Nkosi and Embrose Papier to freak accidents at training, and they were both unavailable for selection. Despite this, the spirit in the camp is very good and the guys have trained well, so we are very positive.”
Theron expected a tough challenge from England, but he was confident that his charges have what it takes to advance to the final.
“England will come hard at us,” said Theron. “They will focus on the scrums, mauls and lineouts, as they like disrupting their opposition at source. They will do the same as in the past by trying to play on their terms, so we would like to get them out of that rhythm.
“In terms of our game, we need to play to our strengths, so we need to get enough quality ball for the backs, and let them do their thing. We have several players with an X-factor in the team, so making the right decisions at the right time will be crucial.”
The match kicks off at 20:45 SA time.
South Africa Under-20:
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Mosolwa Mafuma, 13 Jeremy Ward (captain), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Zain Davids, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Ruben de Villiers, 3 Jaco Holtzhausen, 2 Tango Balekile, 1 Nicolaas Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Franco van den Berg, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Eduard Zandberg, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 James Hall, 22 Franco Naude, 23 Keanu Vers