Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron made eight changes to his team to face France in their final pool match in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship at the Academy Stadium in Manchester on Wednesday.
The changes, which the coach described as being a case of horses for courses, included two positional switches, with Curwin Bosch and Manie Libbok switching between fullback and flyhalf.
The other three changes in the backline were at centre where JT Jackson replaces Franco Naude, while wing Edwill van der Merwe and scrumhalf Embrose Papier earn their first starts as replacements for Mosolwa Mafuma and James Hall respectively.
Among the forwards, hooker Jan-Henning Campher and lock Ruben de Villiers were also handed their first starts in place of Tango Balekile and Eduard Zandberg respectively, while Cobus Wiese replaces Ersnt van Rhyn at flank.
Only two players retained their places on the bench from the clash against Argentina, namely props Nicolaas Oosthuizen and Jaco Holtzhausen. They will be joined by Balekile, Hall, Naude, loose forward Denzel Hill, fullback Keanu Vers and Van Rhyn, who will provide cover at lock.
“The changes we partly due to player management, but we also feel that this is the best team for the challenge against France,” said Theron. “We need to go out there and get the bonus point, and we believe this team is the best equipped to get us that result. This is an all or nothing game for us.”
Theron expected a challenging task against France, but he said his team had the determination and skill to play their way into the semi-final.
“France have a solid set piece and they like to run the ball, so we have to challenge them up-front and shut down their space,” said Theron. “For us in particular, our defence and breakdown play has to be effective.
“The players have been working very hard this week to improve the areas of our game that let us down and they are positive that we can secure a semi-final berth.”
The match will kick off at 19h45 (20h45 SA Time) on Wednesday.
Junior Springbok team vs France in the World Rugby U20 Championship:
15 Curwin Bosch Cell C Sharks
14 S’busiso Nkosi Cell C Sharks
13 Jeremy Ward (captain) Eastern Province
12 JT Jackson Vodacom Blue Bulls
11 Edwill van der Merwe DHL Western Province
10 Manie Libbok Vodacom Blue Bulls
9 Embrose Papier Vodacom Blue Bulls
8 Junior Pokomela Eastern Province
7 Cobus Wiese DHL Western Province
6 Zain Davids DHL Western Province
5 Eli Snyman Vodacom Blue Bulls
4 Ruben de Villiers DHL Western Province
3 Carlü Sadie DHL Western Province
2 Jan-Henning Campher Vodacom Blue Bulls
1 Franco van den Berg Vodacom Blue Bulls
16 Tango Balekile Eastern Province
17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen Eastern Province
18 Jaco Holtzhausen Vodacom Blue Bulls
19 Ernst van Rhyn DHL Western Province
20 Denzel Hill Vodacom Blue Bulls
21 James Hall Eastern Province
22 Franco Naude Vodacom Blue Bulls
23 Keanu Vers Eastern Province