Cape Town - Junior Springbok No 8 Junior Pokomela will lead
the SA U20 team in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship bronze playoff against
Argentina at the AJ Bell Stadium in Manchester on Saturday in the absence of
regular skipper Jeremy Ward, as coach Dawie Theron made six changes to his
Ward is serving a two-week suspension for a dangerous
tackle, which prompted Theron to hand the captaincy to Pokomela. Centre JT
Jackson, who is playing in his second successive World Rugby U20 Championship,
has been named the vice-captain, as the team’s second vice-captain Ernst van
Rhyn was not named in the match-day squad.
Saturday’s match will bring down the curtain on Theron’s
six-year reign as Junior Springbok coach. He will join the Docomo Red
Hurricanes in Japan next month.
The changes to the team will see the front row of hooker
Jan-Henning Campher and props Franco van den Berg and Carlü Sadie start in
place of Tango Balekile, Nicolaas Oosthuizen and Jaco Holtzhausen respectively,
while flanker Cobus Wiese takes over from Van Rhyn in the loose trio.
In the backline, Franco Naude comes in at outside centre,
while Stedman Gans will make his first appearance in the competition on the
right wing in place of Mosolwa Mafuma.
Leopards flyhalf Benhard Janse van Rensburg, who joined the
team on Thursday as injury cover, has been named on the bench alongside
Balekile, Oosthuizen, prop Kwenzo Blose, lock Eduard Zandberg, No 8 Denzel
Hill, scrumhalf James Hall and fullback Keanu Vers.
“The last few days have been tough for the players, with
S’busiso Nkosi and Embrose Papier returning home and Jeremey Ward being
suspended for a dangerous tackle,” said Theron. “We also have a few niggling
injuries, which we had to consult the medical team about, and on that basis we
made a few changes. This is the freshest team available to take on Argentina.”
Theron expected a tough contest against the South Americans,
who defeated the Junior Boks 19-13 in their second pool match in the
international showpiece, but he said the team was determined to finish the
competition on a high note.
“Argentina will be very passionate,” said Theron. “They will
be pleased with their performance in the competition up to now, especially
since they advanced to the semi-final.
“We are expecting them to disruptive once again, especially
in the set pieces. But we will be ready for them.”
Commenting on the fact that the clash marks his final match
in charge of the Junior Springboks, Theron said: “It is the end of six
wonderful years with the SA U20’s, and I would like us to end the tournament on
a high note. I would like to see the team go out there and enjoy themselves,
and put together a brilliant performance for South Africa.”
Junior Springbok team:
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Stedman Gans, 13 Franco Naude, 12 JT
Jackson, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 8
Junior Pokomela (captain), 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Zain Davids, 5, Eli Snyman, 4 Ruben
de Villiers, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Franco van der Berg
Substitutes: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18
Nicholaas Oosthuizen, 19, Eduard Zandberg, 20, Denzil Hill, 21 James Hall, 22
Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Keanu Vers