Cape Town - Phendulani Buthelezi will lead a new-look Junior Springbok team in their second U20 International Series match against the Namibia XV at Tygerberg Rugby Club on Saturday as coach Chean Roux continues to experiment with player combinations.
The talented No 8 - who was a member of the Junior Springbok team that participated in the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France last year - will feature in a dynamic loose forward combination with flankers Dylan Richardson and 2018 Craven Week Player of the Year, Evan Roos.
Only two players in the starting team featured in the run-on side that met Georgia in the opening match of the series on Tuesday, namely flyhalf David Coetzer and fullback and Qamani Kota. This is in line with Roux's objective to develop player combinations and test the players under pressure as he looks to select a 28-man squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina in June.
"We are trying to give everyone a fair chance to play in the three matches in this series, while it is also important that we continue experimenting with player combinations," said Roux.
Roux expected a physical encounter against the Namibia XV - a senior side - who will be determined to give a strong account of themselves after going down 62-8 against the Argentina U20s in the opening match of the series.
"The Namibia XV have a good pack of forwards, they are physical and they play an exciting brand of rugby, so we have to be ready for them," said Roux.
"Hopefully our young players adapt quickly against them and play good rugby."
The coach singled out Junior Boks' scrums, in particular, as an area they needed to improve on from the match against Georgia, and he hoped they could build on their rock-solid defence after conceding only a penalty try and penalty goal in that match.
"I would like to see us build on our defensive performance from the first match, and the big improvement we need to see this week is in our scrums because we were not good enough against Georgia," said Roux.
"We also want to speed up the game, so hopefully we get enough possession to put our skill-set to good use and play good rugby."
Saturday's Junior Springbok match kicks off at 13:30 and will be streamed live on DSTV Now, SS.com and SS YouTube, as well as on www.springboks.rugby. The game will be followed by a clash between Georgia and Argentina 15:15.
In a late change to the side, David Kriel had to withdraw due to an ankle injury, and Roux decided not to replace him amongst the substitutes.
The U20 International Series will conclude on Wednesday, April 17, with the Junior Springboks meeting Argentina and Georgia taking on the Namibia XV.
The Junior Springboks will face England and Wales on a warm-up tour to the UK after the U20 International Series where their preparations will continue for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
Roux's team will open up their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign against Scotland on Tuesday, June 4, before taking on Georgia (Saturday, June 8) and New Zealand (Wednesday, June 12). The semi-finals will be contested on Monday, June 17, and the final on Saturday, June 22.
Junior Springbok squad to face Namibia XV:
15 Qamani Kota (Blue Bulls), 14 Marnus Potgieter (Blue Bulls), 13 Jay Cee Nel (Blue Bulls), 12 James Mollentze (Free State), 11 Sabastiaan Jobb (Blue Bulls), 10 David Coetzer (Western Province), 9 Sanele Nohamba (Sharks), 8 Phendulani Buthelezi (captain, Sharks), 7 Dylan Richardson (Sharks), 6 Evan Roos (Sharks), 5 Janko Swanepoel (Blue Bulls), 4 Emile van Heerden (Sharks), 3 Hanro Jacobs (Sharks), 2 Joe van Zyl (Blue Bulls), 1 Nkosikhona Masuku (Golden Lions)
16 Dameon Venter (Golden Lions), 17 Thabiso Mdletshe (Sharks), 18 Kudzwai Dube (Blue Bulls), 19 Lunga Ncube (Sharks), 20 Jaco Labuschagne (Blue Bulls), 21 Celimpilo Gumede (Sharks), 22 Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), 24 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions), 25 – Francke Horn (Western Province), 26 Mnombo Zwelendaba (Western Province), 27 Caleb Dingaan (Sharks), 28 Thaakir Abrahams (Sharks)