Cape Town - The Junior Springboks will have a solid build-up to the World Rugby U20 Championship with four training camps and a UK tour planned to ensure that they are well prepared for the international spectacle.
The global tournament is scheduled for the south of France from May 30 to June 17.
The team’s preparations will kick off from Tuesday to Friday with the first of three four-day training camps in Stellenbosch - the last of which will conclude on March 30 - followed by a two-week camp in April and a UK tour in May. They will play five internationals in the lead-up to the tournament.
The first two matches will be against World Rugby U20 Championship pool opponents Georgia in Cape Town on back-to-back Fridays, April 13 and 20 respectively, while they will meet Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday, May 4, Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday, May 8, and England in London on Friday, May 11 on their overseas tour.
“This preparation schedule is ideal to ensure that we arrive in France well prepared both mentally and physically for the U20 Championship,” said coach Chean Roux.
“By having four-day camps in February and March we will also avoid a situation where the Varsity Cup players miss a few days of training due to their team commitments.
“We faced Georgia in Tbilisi in the pool stages of the U20 Championship last year and they have again been drawn in our pool this season, so the two encounters against them will be good preparation for both sides. They are physical and determined opponents, and these matches will give the players a good idea of what to expect in France.
“The UK tour will be equally important as the training schedule, the frequency of the matches and the tough competition on tour will be similar to that which the players will experience in France, especially with all three opposition teams also participating in the tournament.”
The training squad includes five capped Junior Springboks - Salmaan Moerat, Gianni Lombard, Wandisile Simelane, Rewan Kruger and Muller Uys - and 22 former SA Schools players, including prop Keagan Glade, centre Rikus Pretorius and lock JJ van der Mescht.
Another member of the 2017 U20 Championship squad, Damian Willemse, was also invited to the camp, but he is on tour with the Stormers.
Roux said the door was open for players outside the group to play their way into the training squad: “We had to select a limited number of players for the first camp, so this group is by no means the only players we will be watching.
“We will continue to keep an eye on other players who perform well, so the group could change as our preparations continue.”
Junior Bok training squad for first camp (February 20-23):
Props: Cabous Eloff (Blue Bulls), Keagan Glade (Golden Lions), Leon Lyons (Western Province), Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions), Sazi Sandi (Western Province), Mornay Smith (Blue Bulls), Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province), Tiaan van der Merwe (Golden Lions)
Hookers: PJ Botha (Golden Lions), Schalk Erasmus (Western Province), Fezokuhle Mbatha (Sharks)
Locks: Luyolo Dapula (Eastern Province), Ben-Jason Dixon (Western Province), Salmaan Moerat (Western Province), PJ Steenkamp (Golden Lions), JJ van der Mescht (Sharks), Ruan Vermaak (Golden Lions)
Loose forwards: Phendulani Buthelezi (Sharks), Francke Horn (Western Province), Shaine Orderson (Western Province), Ryno Pieterse (Blue Bulls), Erwart Potgieter (Blue Bulls), JC Pretorius (Blue Bulls), Muller Uys (Western Province)
Scrumhalves: Richman Gora (Blue Bulls), Jack Hart (Golden Lions), Rewan Kruger (Free State)
Flyhalves: David Coetzer (Western Province), Lubabalo Dobela (Free State), Johannes Steenkamp (Leopards)
Centres: Lyle Hendricks (Western Province), Rikus Pretorius (Western Province), Manuel Rass (Golden Lions), Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions), Louritz van der Schyff (Golden Lions), Sango Xamlashe (Free State)
Outside backs: Christian Ambadiang (Western Province), Muller du Plessis (Sharks), Tyrone Green (Golden Lions), Gianni Lombard (Golden Lions), Sihle Njezula (Western Province), Sakoyisa Makata (Western Province), Christiaan Strydom (Blue Bulls)
Junior Springbok training camp dates:
Camp 1: February 20-23 (Stellenbosch)
Camp 2: March 6-9 (Stellenbosch)
Camp 3: March 27-30 (Stellenbosch)
Camp 4: April 10-25 (Stellenbosch)
UK Tour: April 30 to May 12
World Rugby U20 Championship holding camp: May 20-25 (Stellenbosch)
World Rugby U20 Championship: May 30 to June 17 (France)