Cape Town - Junior Springbok flyhalf Damian Willemse will make his first appearance of the season for the SA U20’s in a settled starting team when Chean Roux’s charges meet Georgia in their opening match of the World Rugby U20 Championship at Stade Aimé Giral in Perpignan on Wednesday.
Willemse, one of seven players in the match-day squad who participated in the tournament in Georgia last year, will partner with Zak Burger at halfback after coming off a solid Super Rugby campaign for the Stormers in the last few months.
Lock and captain Salmaan Moerat, centre Wandisile Simelane, No 8 Muller Uys, fullback Gianni Lombard, hooker Daniel Jooste and replacement scrumhalf Rewan Kruger are the other players in Roux’s match-23 who featured in the international spectacle in Tbilisi.
Moerat and Ruan Nortje will form the lock duo, while flanks Dian Schoonees and PJ Steenkamp pair up with Uys in the loose trio, and Rikus Pretorius and Simelane will do duty in the midfield.
Lombard starts at fullback, with Tyrone Green and Sihle Njezula at wing, while Jooste and props Sazi Sandi and Nathan McBeth will pack down in the front row.
On the bench, replacement lock Ruan Nortje will make his Junior Springbok debut if he takes to the field after missing the team’s internationals in the lead-up to the tournament due to a knee injury.
“We were fortunate to be able to select a settled squad, which will be handy against a physical and passionate Georgian outfit,” said Roux.
“All the players are fit and eager to play, and we selected a team that we thought would be best suited to the game against Georgia.”
Looking ahead at the clash against Georgia, Roux said he is expecting a physical onslaught.
“Georgia play with their hearts on their sleeves and they will take to the field with everything they have. They are a forward-driven team, with a good scrum and lineout maul, so they will probably try to lay the foundation there. But that said, our plans for the game are mapped out and hopefully we can counter that,” he said.
The match kicks off at 18:30 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1.
15 Gianni Lombard (Golden Lions), 14 Tyrone Green (Golden Lions), 13 Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions), 12 Rikus Pretorius (Western Province), 11 Sihle Njezula (Western Province), 10 Damian Willemse (Western Province), 9 Zak Burger (Sharks), 8 Muller Uys (Western Province), 7 PJ Steenkamp (Golden Lions), 6 Dian Schoonees (Golden Lions), 5 Ruan Nortje (Blue Bulls), 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain, Western Province), 3 Sazi Sandi (Western Province), 2 Daniel Jooste (Western Province), 1 Nathan McBeth (Golden Lions)
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Erasmus (Western Province), 17 Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province), 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions), 19 Ben-Jason Dixon (Western Province), 20 Ruan Vermaak (Golden Lions), 21 Rewan Kruger (Free State), 22 Lubabalo Dobela (Free State), 23 Lyle Hendricks (Western Province)
The 12 teams are divided into three pools:
Pool A: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Wales
Pool B: Argentina, England, Italy, Scotland
Pool C: France, Georgia, Ireland, South Africa
Day 1 - Wednesday, May 30
South Africa v Georgia
Scotland v Italy
England v Argentina
France v Ireland
Australia v Wales
New Zealand v Japan
Day 2 - Sunday, June 3
Scotland v Argentina
France v Georgia
Australia v Japan
England v Italy
New Zealand v Wales
South Africa v Ireland
Day 3 - Thursday, June 7
Italy v Argentina
Wales v Japan
Ireland v Georgia
News Zealand v Australia
South Africa v France
England v Scotland
Ludovic Cayre (France), Pali Deluca
(Argentina), Karl Dickson (England), Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Dan
Jones (Wales), Damon Murphy (Australia), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand),
Andrea Piardi (Italy), Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Television match officials
Philippe Bonhoure (France), Shane McDermott (New Zealand), Stuart Terheege (England)
2008: New Zealand
2009: New Zealand
2010: New Zealand
2011: New Zealand
2012: South Africa
2015: New Zealand
2017: New Zealand