Cape Town - SA Schools coach Lance Sendin and SA Schools ‘A’ coach Sean Erasmus on Thursday named their teams for the opening round of the Under-19 International Series at City Park Stadium in Crawford, Cape Town, on Friday.
The SA Schools team will face Wales at 15:00 and the SA Schools ‘A’ team takes on Italy at 13h30. In the other fixture England and France clash at 12h00. All three matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1 (channel 201).
With the bulk of the 26-man SA Schools squad being made up of Western Province players, who took top honours in the Under-18 Craven Week for the second successive year, Sendin had the luxury of selecting a few settled player combinations.
The Western Province loose trio of Charl Serdyn, Muller Uys and Khanya Ncusane will form a solid loose forward combination, while their provincial counterparts, fullback Gianni Lombard and wing Mike Mavovana, will also form a key combination at the back along with left wing Sihle Njezula from Eastern Province.
The front-row pairing of Golden Lions prop Nathan McBeth and hooker PJ Botha, who will pack down with Eastern Province Country Districts prop Sazi Sandi, will also be vital against the Welsh pack.
“Given the limited time to prepare for the tournament, it was important to select a few settled player combinations, while at the same time trying to name the strongest possible team,” said Sendin.
“Unfortunately a few players had flu this week and had to be managed, which also influenced our team selection. That said, we would like to give the players on the bench a good run as well in the match.”
Commenting on the threat posed by Wales, Sendin said: “Wales have come all the way to South Africa and they will be determined to win. The fact that they have played together before will certainly give them confidence. Their rush defence is very good and they have a strong pack of forwards, so they will look to dominate up front, and we are expecting them to use their rolling maul often, so we have to be wary of that.”
Erasmus also selected a few settled combinations in his starting team to face Italy, with Enrista Blue Bulls fullback Abner van Reenen, wing Austin Davids and captain and centre Louritz Van der Schyff joining forces. In the front row, the familiarity between Sharks hooker Dylan Richardson and prop Gugu Nelani will add stability in the front row.
“We selected a team we thought we would be best suited to way we plan to play against Italy,” said Erasmus.
“We are expecting a physical onslaught from them in the first 20 minutes and a free-flowing game in general. They are a passionate nation and that will certainly show in the way they play, so this will be a tough test for us.”
With the Under-19 International Series serving as a platform to expose young players to top-class rugby from a young age, all six teams have been allowed to name match-day squads of 26 players. However, only eight replacements may be used on the day.
SA Schools team to face Wales:
15 Gianni Lombard (Western Province), 14 Mike Mavovana (Western Province), 13 Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions), 12 Rikus Pretorius (Free State), 11 Sihle Njezula (Eastern Province), 10 Damian Willemse (Western Province), 9 Rewan Kruger (Free State), 8 Khanya Ncusane (Western Province), 7 Muller Uys (Western Province, 6 Charl Serdyn (Western Province), 5 PJ Steenkamp (Blue Bulls), 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain, Western Province), 3 Sazi Sandi (EP Country Districts), 2 PJ Botha (Golden Lions), 1 Nathan McBeth (Golden Lions)
Substitutes: 16 Daniel Jooste (Western Province), 17 Reece Bezuidenhout (Western Province), Johan Neethling (Western Province), 19 Ben-Jason Dixon (Western Province), 20 JC Pretorius (Pumas), 21 Richman Gora (Griffons), 22 Ruan de Swardt (Blue Bulls), 23 Manuel Rass (Western Province), 24 Muller du Plessis (Western Province), 25 Emilio Adams (Blue Bulls), 26 Khwezi Mafu (Eastern Province)
SA Schools A team to face Italy:
15 Abner van Reenen (Blue Bulls), 14 Austin Davids (Blue Bulls), 13 Louritz Van der Schyff (captain, Blue Bulls), 12 Sicelo Tole (Eastern Province), 11 Cameron Hufke (Griquas), 10 Lubabalo Dobela (Eastern Province), 9 Sane Nphamba (Sharks), 8 Jessie Johnson (Western Province), 7 Mark Snyman (Golden Lions), 6 Athi Magwala (Western Province), 5 Christopher Havenga (Golden Lions), 4 Jaco van Tonder (Free State), 3 Mornay Smith (Blue Bulls), 2 Dylan Richardson (Sharks), 1 Gugu Nelani (Sharks)
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Erasmus (Blue Bulls), 17 Cabous Eloff (Blue Bulls), 18 Keagan Glade (Golden Lions), 19 Juan van der Mescht (Sharks), 20 Ryno Pieterse (Blue Bulls), 21 Dian Schonees (Free State), 22 Zinedine Booysen (SWD Eagles), 23 Tyrone Green (Golden Lions), 24 Tadendaishe Mujawo (Golden Lions), 25 Janco van Heyningen (Free State), 26 Ayabonga Oliphant (Eastern Province)
Under-19 International Series captains (Photo supplied by SA Rugby)