Cape Town - Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron on Thursday named his team to face a combined Golden Lions Under-19 and Under-21 team in their first warm-up match.
The match will take place on Friday at Wits University and is the Junior Boks’ first fully-fledged encounter in the lead-up to the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, England, from June 7-25.
The starting line-up features the Blue Bulls halfback combination of flyhalf Manie Libbok and scrumhalf Embrose Papier, while Western Province locks Eduard Zandberg and Ruben de Villiers will join forces in the engine room.
The loose trio, meanwhile, features flanks Zain Davids and Ernst van Rhyn and No 8 Junior Pokomela, while captain and centre, Jeremy Ward, will join forces with Franco Naude in a hard-running centre combination.
In the front row hooker JH Campher will team up with props Kwenzo Blose and Nicolaas Oosthuizen, while the side also boasts firepower out wide with wings S’busiso Nkosi and Mosolwa Mafuma.
“We had three contact sessions (against the Western Province Rugby Institute and Western Province Academy) in the last few weeks and that offered us a fantastic opportunity to see what the players have to offer in a match situation,” said Theron.
“We have now reached a stage where we want to test player combinations and hopefully develop a few key combinations in the process.
“Embrose Papier and Ruben de Villiers joined the training squad later than the other players, so this is the first time they will be in action for us, and I am excited to see how they slot in.
“We will play with a bench of 10 players, so we would like to give everyone a run with an eye on sharpening up our preparation and match fitness ahead of the showpiece.”
Utility back Curwin Bosch (hamstring) and lock Eli Snyman (lower leg) will not participate in the match as they are nursing niggling injuries, while scrumhalf James Hall is on Vodacom Super Rugby duty.
Theron said while the result of the match would be important, he was more focused on the implementation of their game plan against the Johannesburg side.
“Preparing for a tournament is a process, so our main focus at this stage is to implement our structures effectively and to test ourselves under pressure,” said Theron.
“One of the highlights of our first two contact sessions was that we did not concede any points, and I would like to see the players show the same commitment on defence, while at the same time capitalising on the chances we create on attack.”
The Junior Springboks will return to Cape Town on Friday after the match.
The team will face Maties in Stellenbosch on Tuesday, May 17 in their second warm-up match at 18:00, which will be followed by a clash against SWD in Oudtshoorn on Saturday, May 21.
Junior Springboks to face Golden Lions U19 and U21:
15 Keanu Vers (Eastern Province), 14 S’busiso Nkosi (Sharks), 13 Jeremy Ward (captain - Eastern Province), 12 Franco Naude (Blue Bulls), 11 Mosolwa Mafuma (Free State), 10 Manie Libbok (Blue Bulls), 9 Embrose Papier (Blue Bulls), 8 Junior Pokomela (Eastern Province), 7 Ernst van Rhyn (Western Province), 6 Zain Davids (Western Province), 5 Eduard Zandberg (Western Province), 4 Ruben de Villiers (Western Province), 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen (Eastern Province), 2 JH Campher (Blue Bulls), 1 Kwenzo Blose (Free State)
Substitutes: 16 Tango Balekile (Eastern Province), 17 Franco van den Berg (Blue Bulls), 18 Carlü Sadie (Western Province), 19 Jaco Holtzhausen (Blue Bulls), 20 Cobus Wiese (Western Province), 21 Denzel Hill (Blue Bulls), 22 Marco Jansen van Vuren (Golden Lions), 23 JT Jackson (Blue Bulls), 24 Edwill van der Merwe (Western Province), 25 Stedman Gans (Blue Bulls)