Cape Town - Former SA Schools captain Salmaan Moerat will lead the Junior Springboks in an international match against Georgia in Stellenbosch on Friday.
The match, to be played at Paul Roos Gymnasium's Markötter Fields, will be used a build-up for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux’s starting line-up includes five players who were members of the SA U20 team that finished third in the international spectacle in Tbilisi, Georgia, last year. They are Moerat, fullback Gianni Lombard, centre Wandisile Simelane, scrumhalf Rewan Kruger and No 8 Muller Uys.
The match-day 23 features a total of 12 former SA Schools players, with those outside of the capped Junior Springboks being props Sazi Sandi and Nkosikhona Masuku, loose forwards PJ Steenkamp, JC Pretorius and Phendulani Buthelezi, winger Sihle Njezula and centre Rikus Pretorius.
With the clash being a fully-fledged international, the players that take to the field will earn Junior Springbok caps.
“We have a group of determined and competitive players in camp, which is exciting because everyone is keen to prove themselves for places in the final squad of 28 that will participate in the World Rugby U20 Championship,” said Roux.
“Georgia are tough opponents, so it is great to have a few players who were in last year’s squad to offer experience and guidance on the field. The SA schools experience will also be of great value to the players who are playing at this level for the first time, so we are excited to see what this squad can do.
“Unfortunately a few players in the expanded squad are nursing injuries, while Damian Willemse and Muller du Plessis are unavailable due to their commitments with the Stormers and Blitzboks respectively, so this squad has been shaped by a number of factors. But we have another match against Georgia next week, and we hope to have some of them back.”
Roux said he is expecting a tough challenge against Georgia, who put up a brave fight against the Junior Boks on their home patch last year.
“Georgia are a very physical side and they play with a lot of pride and passion, so we are expecting a big battle.
“That said, our players know what we expected of them, and they realise the importance of learning as much as possible from this experience, especially since we will face Georgia in our opening pool match in the U20 Championship in the south of France.
“Our greater goal, however, is to prepare as well as possible to stake a claim for the title in France, and every match we play is vital in this process.”
The match kicks off at 16:00 and entrance is free.
Junior Springbok team to face Georgia:
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 Lubabalo Dobela (Free State), 9 Rewan Kruger (Free State), 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 Schalk Erasmus (Western Province), 1 Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province)
Substitutes: 16 PJ Botha (Golden Lions), 17 Nkosikhona Masuku (Golden Lions), 18 Cohen Kiewit (Golden Lions), 19 JC Pretorius (Blue Bulls), 20 Phendulani Buthelezi (Sharks), 21 Zak Burger (Sharks), 22 Abner van Reenen (Western Province), 23 Lyle Hendricks (Western Province)