Cape Town - Sharks flyhalf Benhard Janse van Rensburg has been included in the Junior Springboks’ starting line-up to face the Griffons on Friday in their first warm-up match in the build-up to the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
Along with Janse van Rensburg, who is one of two players in the match-day squad who were also part of the SA Under-20 squad last year, Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux also included six 2016 SA Schools players to play in Welkom.
They are Salmaan Moerat, who captained the SA Schools team last season, Gianni Lombard, Daniel Jooste, Manuel Rass, Rewan Kruger and Muller Uys.
With a handful of players in contention for selection for the 28-man squad to travel to Georgia on duty at their Vodacom Super Rugby franchises, the Springbok Sevens team and the Varsity Cup, and others nursing injuries, Roux will use this opportunity to give the players in camp a chance to showcase their skills.
The match will kick off at 15:00 at the HT Pelatona Projects Stadium.
A shortage of locks in the squad prompted Roux to draft in Cheetahs lock Ewan Coetzee to train with the squad.
“We have small group of players here, so it was easy to select the team to face the Griffons,” said Roux.
“We have two months left to prepare for the competition and there are several other players who also have a shot of securing a place in the final squad, so the training matches are not only important in terms of our preparation but also for the players to show us what they can do.
“The players whose Varsity Cup teams do not progress to the final will join us next week, along with Damian Willemse and Embrose Papier, and we plan to play them and the players who have not been included in this squad in the remaining warm-up games.”
Janse van Rensburg will pair up with his Sharks team-mate Francois de Villiers in the halfbacks, while the Golden Lions duo of Rass and Wayne van der Bank will start at centre.
Up-front Western Province prop Lee-Marvin Mazibuko and hooker Daniel Jooste will pack down in the front row with Free State Cheetahs prop Boan Venter, while Moerat and Coetzee will start in the engine room.
Commenting on the clash against the Griffons, Roux said the scoreboard would have no significance and that the main focus would be on the implementation of the structures.
“Our main focus up until now has been on individual skills, so we have not had the opportunity to test the various aspects of our game in a proper match,” explained Roux.
“The three warm-up matches on this tour will serve the purpose of ticking the boxes in the different areas such as the accuracy of our kicking, our lineouts, scrums, and defence, and to allow the players to showcase their talent.
“We have five warm-up matches in total before we depart for Georgia, and this will be the first hit-out for the players, so paying attention to the scoreboard now will not be beneficial in any way. Instead, I would like to see a steady improvement in the implementation of our structures and systems as our preparation progresses.”
The Junior Springboks will face the Griquas and Free State Cheetahs on April 5 and April 8, respectively, in their next two warm-up matches.
They will have their third training camp in Stellenbosch from April 18 to May 12, where they will play a further two warm-up matches against the Varsity Cup Dream Team on Tuesday, April 25, and Western Province on Tuesday, May 9, respectively.
The SA Under-20s will face France, Georgia and Argentina in the pool stages of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Tbilisi, Georgia, on May 31, June 4 and June 8, respectively.
Junior Springbok squad to face the Griffons:
15 Gianni Lombard (Golden Lions), 14 Mfundo Ndhlovu (Sharks), 13 Manuel Rass (Golden Lions), 12 Wayne van der Bank (Golden Lions), 11 Ilunga Mukendi (Sharks), 10 Benhard Janse van Rensburg (Sharks), 9 Francois de Villiers (Sharks), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani (Golden Lions), 7 Hendre Stassen (Blue Bulls), 6 Nama Xaba (Western Province), 5 Salmaan Moerat (Western Province), 4 Ewan Coetzee (Free State Cheetahs), 3 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko (Western Province), 2 Daniel Jooste (Western Province), 1 Boan Venter (Free State Cheetahs)
Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar (Blue Bulls), 17 Gerhard Steenekamp (Blue Bulls), 18 Carlu Sadie (Western Province), 19 Muller Uys (Western Province), 20 Marnus van der Merwe (Free State Cheetahs), 21 Rewan Kruger (Free State Cheetahs), 22 Jean-Luc Cilliers (Golden Lions), 23 Cornel Smit (Western Province)