Four players from last year’s SA Schools team will start against Wales U18 at City Park Stadium in Cape Town on Friday.
They are 2014 Craven Week Player of the Year, Curwin Bosch, scrumhalf Embrose Papier, fullback Andell Loubser and flank Cobus Wiese.
With the bulk of the 26-man squad being made up of players from Western Province, who registered the highest score in a the final match at the U18 Craven Week last month with their 95-0 win against Eastern Province, coach Hein Kriek had the luxury of selecting a few settled player combinations.
The tight five, with the exception of Blue Bulls loosehead prop Cabous Eloff, are all members of the triumphant Western Province team, while their Craven Week captain Ernst van Rhyn, will lead the side from the side of the scrum.
Bosch and Papier were both in the squad last year and should be familiar with each other’s style of play.
With the U18 International Series serving as a platform to expose young players to top-class rugby from a young age, all six teams will field squads larger than the standard 23 players.
Kriek said his team was excited ahead of the tournament and he hoped that the familiarity among the players would give them an edge.
‘I am pleased with the quality of our training sessions since the squad assembled and it was fantastic to see them gel as a team in such a short time,’ said Kriek. ‘Hopefully they will be able to transfer this positive attitude on the field from the outset, as we are playing against quality teams who have come to South Africa to make their presence felt.
‘Unfortunately we suffered our first defeat in four years in the U18 International Series against England last year, so it is important for us to hit the ground running from our opening match against Wales. We tried to keep some combinations together from Craven Week as we only had a few days to prepare for the clash against Wales, and we hope that it will pay off.’
Meanwhile, SA Schools A coach Lance Sendin also selected a strong starting line-up for their clash against Italy, which features the KwaZulu-Natal halfback pairing of scrumhalf Matthew Dahl and flyhalf Bader Pretorius.
Captain Hendré Stassen will join forces with PJ Steenkamp at lock, while props Abram Venter and Ignatius Prinsloo, and hooker André Lategan will complete a tough tight five.
SA Schools (to face Wales U18) – 15 Andell Loubser, 14 Nico Leonard, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Brits, 11 Manie Libbok, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Kwezi Mafu, 7 Ernst van Rhyn (c), 6 Cobus Wiese, 5 Ruben de Villers, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Carlű Sadie, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Cabous Eloff.
Subs: 16 Nico Peyper, 17 Ashwyn Adams, 18 Dewald Maritz, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Jondré Williams, 22 Damian Willemse, 23 Wandisile Simelane, 24 Heino Bezuidenhout, 25 Manuel Ras.
SA Schools A (to face Italy U18) – 15 Earll Dourie, 14 Ryan Muller, 13 Abner van Reenen, 12 Cyprian Nkomo, 11 Mujaahid van der Hoven, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Matthew Dahl, 8 Khanya Ncusane, 7 Phillip Krause, 6 Zain Davids, 5 Hendré Stassen (c), 4 PJ Steenkamp, 3 Ignatius Prinsloo, 2 André Lategan, 1 Abram Venter.
Subs: 16 Christopher Klopper, 17 Marnus van der Merwe, 18 Mashao Mukhari, 19 Kamva Dilima, 20 Kwanda Dimaza, 21 Jason Olivier, 22 Eddie Fouché, 23 Tyreeq February, 24 Cornel Smit, 25 Riaan van Rensburg, 26 Reinhard Nothnagel.
U18 International Series fixtures:
Friday, 7 August – City Park Stadium, Cape Town
12:00 – SA Schools A vs Italy U18
14:00 – England U18 vs France U18
16:00 – SA Schools vs Wales U18
Tuesday, 11 August – Outeniqua Park, George
13:00 – SA Schools A vs England U18
15:00 – Wales U18 vs Italy U18
17:00 – SA Schools vs France U18
Saturday, 15 August – City Park Stadium, Cape Town
11:00 – SA Schools A vs Wales U18
13:00 – France U18 vs Italy U18
15:00 – SA Schools vs England U18