Cape Town - Golden Lions No 8 Travis Gordon will lead the SA Schools team when they kick off their under-19 international series campaign on Friday against Wales at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch in the first of three internationals.
Centre Rikus Pretorius, who is one of two players who featured in SA Schools team last season, has been named the vice-captain. The other player who will represent the squad for the second time is winger Muller du Plessis.
England will face France in the first match at 14:15, which will be followed by the SA Schools team taking on Wales at 16:00.
The Johannesburg prop duo of Nkosikhona Masuku and Keagan Glade will partner up with Ruhann Greyling in a solid front row, while scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba and flyhalf Christopher Schreuder will dictate play in a talented halfback pairing.
Lock Juan van der Mescht, weighing in at 130kg and 2m tall, will pair up with Cristen van Niekerk, at 104kg and 1.9m tall, in a physical lock pairing.
In line with the competition rules, Sendin opted to name 13 replacements, although only eight will be allowed to take to the field. The sides will be allowed rolling substitutions, which will be limited to 12 rotations.
“We selected the player combinations which we thought gelled well based on what we saw at training in the last few days,” said SA Schools coach Lance Sendin.
Looking at the match, he said: “Wales are always tough customers. They usually have a well-balanced side with big forwards and skilled backs, so we are expecting a physical encounter, while we will also be tested on defence. We need to be well prepared to counter their strengths.”
With the SA Schools team finishing last year’s tournament unbeaten, Sendin was confident that his charges were up for the challenge and said: “It was a challenge at first, but after getting to know one another, the players have responded well to the pressure. They are all looking forward to the first match.”
Scholars will be allowed free entry to Paul Roos Gymnasium for Friday’s matches, while the entrance fee for over 18s is R20.
SA Schools team:
15 Kennedy Mpeku - Golden Lions/KES, 14 Qamani Kota - Griffons/Welkom Gimnasium, 13 Diego Appollis - Blue Bulls/Garsfontein, 12 Rikus Pretorius (vice-captain) - Free State/Grey College, 11 Muller du Plessis - Western Province/Paarl Gymnasium, 10 Christopher Schreuder - Free State/Grey College, 9 Sanele Nohamba - Sharks/Durban High School, 8 Travis Gordon (captain) - Golden Lions/KES, 7 Phendulani Buthelezi - Sharks/Durban High School, 6 Vian Fourie - Western Province/Paarl Boys High, 5 Cristen van Niekerk - Golden Lions/Monument, 4 Juan van der Mescht - Sharks/Glenwood, 3 Keagan Glade - Golden Lions/KES, 2 Ruhann Greyling - Free State/Grey College, 1 Nkosikhona Masuku - Golden Lions/Parktown Boys High
Substitutes: 16 Fezokuhle Mbatha - Sharks/Maritzburg College, 17 Jordan Clarke - Sharks/ Glenwood, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye - Golden Lions/St Stithians, 19 Celimpilo Gumede – Sharks/Durban High School, 20 Adrian Alberts - Western Province/Paarl Boys High, 21 Mark Snyman - Golden Lions/Helpmekaar, 22 Dylan Richardson - Sharks/Kearsney, 23 Henco Martins - Western Province/Paarl Gymnasium, 24 Jaden Hendrikse - Sharks/Glenwood, 25 Yanga Hlalu - Golden Lions/KES, 26 Conan Le Fleur - Sharks/Glenwood, 27 Morne Brandon - Golden Lions/ Monument, 28 Banele Mthenjane - Pumas/Nelspruit