Cape Town - SA Schools captain Salmaan Moerat and SA Schools vice-captain Damian Willemse headline the strong intake for the Western Province Rugby Institute for 2017.
Paarl Boys High lock Moerat and Paul Roos flyhalf Willemse have both represented Western Province at age-group level for some time and will continue their development at the world class facilities of the WPRI this year, having signed long-term contracts with Western Province Rugby.
In all, there are 10 SA Schools representatives and three SA Schools Academy players in the group, which kicked off the year at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sports on Monday, January 9.
Flanks Muller Uys (Paarl Gym) and Charl Serdyn (Paarl Boys), hooker Daniel Jooste (Paarl Boys), wing Mike Mavovana (Rondebosch Boys), lock Ben-Jason Dixon (Paul Roos), and props Sazi Sandi (St Andrews College), Adam Neethling (Paarl Boys) and Reece Bezuidenhout (Paarl Boys) all join fellow SA Schools representatives Moerat and Willemse in the talented group, whilst SA Academy Players Athi Magwala, Jesse Johnson and Schalk Erasmus will also be at the WPRI this year.
Western Province Rugby Group CEO, Paul Zacks, said that it is encouraging to see so many talented young players commit their future to Western Province Rugby.
"The success of our junior teams is crucial to our development as a Union, to ensure that we are able to attain excellence across the board,” he said.
"Now that we have attracted and recruited these players, the work starts as we look to mould them into the stars of the future.
“We have managed to retain a lot of the talented players who have excelled for Western Province at Youth level, as well as attract some top players from outside.
“I am excited to see this current group grow and add to the pool of talent we already have at our disposal,” he said.
Programme Director and Junior Springbok assistant coach, Nazeem Adams, said that the 2017 programme will give the players everything they need to realise their full potential as professional rugby players.
“Our programme this year will be closely aligned with the training methods being used by the senior Stormers squad and the facilities here at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport are second to none, so these players have the ideal environment in which to develop their talent.
“The players will work hard both on and off the pitch in their time at the Institute. Our programme has a focus on career development, life skills and education this year, with each of the players given tutor-supervised study time to ensure they are best prepared for a career alongside rugby by the end of the year,” he said.
Western Province Rugby Football Union President, Thelo Wakefield, said that the WPRI has proven itself as a very effective tool for developing talented young players, which this group will benefit from next year.
"We have had great success in the last six years in terms of the results and the players that the WPRI has produced.
“Western Province U19 have claimed four national titles in the last six years, and there have been a number of senior Stormers and Western Province players such as Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni and Juan de Jongh who have come through the WP Rugby Institute,” he said.
Western Province Rugby Institute 2017 intake:
Reece Bezuidenhout, Andre Booysen, Francke Botha, Deon Carstens, Branden de Kock, Ben-Jason Dixon, Gift Dlamini, Regardt du Plessis, Schalk Erasmus, Alex Halvorsen, Lyle Hendricks, Tiaan Henecke, Boet Heyl, Bernard Jansen, Jesse Johnson, Daniel Jooste, Labib Kannemeyer, Marco Labuschagne, Liam Larkan, Leon Lyons, Athi Magwala, Sako Makata, Henlo Marais, Mike Mavovana, Salmaan Moerat, Adam Neethling, Shaine Orderson, Sam Phiri, Sebastian Prentice, Sazi Sandi, Lobelo Scott, Charl Serdyn, Aydon Topley, Muller Uys, Muhajied van der Hoven, Wian van Zyl, Joshua Vermaulen, Damian Willemse.