SA fields strong squad for Junior World Cup

23 April 2014

After winning the IRB Junior World Championship in 2012 and finishing third in 2013, the Junior Springboks will be one of the favourites to lift the title when the tournament takes place in New Zealand from 2 to 22 June.

The squad, announced on Tuesday, includes a number of players with Super Rugby experience, and other players with previous experience of the Junior World Cup.

Handre Pollard (Vodacom Bulls), Andre Esterhuizen (Cell C Sharks), Sergeal Petersen and Aidon Davis (Southern Kings), and Malcolm Marx (Lions) have all either played Vodacom Super Rugby or have been part of their respective franchise’s Super Rugby training groups.

Win over New Zealand

The squad also sees the return of several players who did duty for the South African under-20s in France last year, where they claimed the bronze medal after defeating New Zealand in the playoff for third.

Pollard, who also starred in the 2012 tournament, Davis and Jesse Kriel all played for the Junior Boks in 2013. Winger Petersen, who made an impressive Super Rugby debut for the Kings last year by scoring several stunning tries, was also included in the squad but missed the trip to France because of a hamstring injury.

Selection

South Africa under-20 coach Dawie Theron and the national selectors, Peter Jooste and Ian McIntosh, selected the 28-man squad following an intensive identification and trials process. More than 50 players attended the training camp, which ran for almost three weeks in Stellenbosch and included two trial matches as well as several training games.

The Junior World Cup squad returned to their training base in Stellenbosch on Tuesday to continue their preparations for the tournament, which will include a three-match international series against traditional rivals Argentina from 2 to 10 May in the Western Cape.

Weather conditions

Theron said the weather and playing conditions in New Zealand, as well as a tough pool draw, will contribute to a challenging competition.

“Our players are used to dry and fast fields and we will encounter the opposite of these conditions in New Zealand,” he explained in a statement. “These were obvious factors we had to take into account when selecting the squad.

“We will now intensify our preparations. The series against Argentina will give us an ideal opportunity to test our game plan, readiness and decision-making against a very competitive team and in real match situations.”

Twins

There are two sets of twin brothers in the squad, Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez, the sons of former Springbok scrumhalf Robert du Preez, and Jesse and Dan Kriel.

In 2013, the Du Preez’s older brother, Robert, played flyhalf for the SA under-20s.

Jean-Luc du Plessis is also the son of a former Springbok. His father is Carel du Plessis, who also served as Springbok coach in 1997.

Junior Springboks 2014 JWC fixtures

  • 2 June: SA vs Scotland (North Harbour)
  • 6 June: SA vs New Zealand (North Harbour)
  • 10 June: SA vs Samoa (Pukekohe)
  • 15 June: Playoffs (Tbc)
  • 20 June: Finals (Auckland)