Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron has confirmed his starting line-up for their World Rugby Under-20 Championship opening clash on Tuesday against hosts Italy in Calvisano.
Number8 Hanro Liebenberg will lead out a Junior Springbok match-23 sprinkled with several players who also took part in last year’s event in New Zealand, where they lost by a single point against defending champions England.
Theron stuck mainly to the combinations that earned his team a morale-boosting 2-0 series win over Los Pumitas last month in Argentina.
Cell C Sharks prop Thomas du Toit will anchor the scrum and is one of the players that will participate in his second successive tournament, as well as lock Abongile Nonkontwana (Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks). Another survivor from last year, Joseph Dweba (hooker, Toyota Free State Cheetahs), will play off the bench.
Theron opted for a strong forward pack while the backline has a settled look.
Warrick Gelant is also returning for his second tournament in a row and the Springbok Sevens international starts in the No 15 jersey. Much is expected of the centre pairing of JT Jackson (Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Daniel du Plessis (DHL Western Province), in particular.
“This is a well balanced team and the squad is overall in good shape. We have done a lot of mental preparation for this match because Italy will come out fighting all the way,” said coach Theron.
Junior Springbok team to face Italy on Tuesday evening in Calvisano (Live on SS1):
15. Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
14. Khanyo Ngcukana (DHL Western Province)
13. Daniel du Plessis (DHL Western Province)
12. JT Jackson (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
11. Leolin Zas (DHL Western Province)
10. Brandon Thomson (DHL Western Province)
9. Ivan van Zyl (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
8. Hanro Liebenberg (Vodacom Blue Bulls, captain)
7. Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks)
6. Rikus Bothma (DHL Western Province)
5. RG Snyman (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
4. Abongile Nonkontwana (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
3. Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks)
2. Jan van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
1. Ox Nche (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
16. Joseph Dweba (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
17. Njabulo Gumede (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
18. Frans van Wyk (DHL Western Province)
19. Jason Jenkins (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
20. Dan du Preez (Cell C Sharks)
21. Marco Jansen van Vuren (Xerox Golden Lions)
22. Tinus de Beer (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
23. Malcolm Jaer (EP Kings)
South Africa Under-20 Championship fact file:
Seeding for 2015: 2
Best finish: Champions (2012)
Worst finish: Fifth (2011)
U20 Championship match record: Played 35 / Won 27 / Lost 8
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,427 / 194
Under-20 graduates: 15 Springboks
Most capped Under-20 graduate: Patrick Lambie (40 tests)
SuperSport will broadcast all the matches live on SS1
South Africa will play the tournament hosts in the feature match on match day one in Calvisano and kick-of is 20h30.