South Africa’s preparations for this summer’s IRB Junior World Championship in Italy have been boosted by the addition of a number of players to their latest training camp, including three Springbok Sevens players in Paul Jordaan, William Small-Smith and Craig Barry.
Jordaan was part of South Africa’s Cup winning squad at the USA Sevens in February and, like Small-Smith and Barry, has been part of the Sevens structures since December as coach Paul Treu incorporates an accent of youth in his squad as he builds towards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
They are not alone with playmaker Cecil Afrika, the leading point and try scorer on the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, Branco du Preez and Sibusiso Sithole all having graced the IRB Junior World Championship since it began in 2008.
The Sevens trio are not the only players making their first appearance at the South African Under 20 camp this year as prop Frans Malherbe and hooker Siyabonga Ntubeni join the Cape Town get together after playing for the Stormers and Western Province in Super Rugby and the Vodacom Cup.
Fellow forwards Eben Etzebeth and Arno Botha are also expected to link up with the rest of the squad on Sunday after playing in the FNB Varsity Cup final earlier in the week and Under 20 coach Dawie Theron reveals the final squad will come from this camp.
“We are now entering the final stages of our preparations for the forthcoming IRB Junior World Championship and it’s great to have players who come from our Springbok Sevens structure to join us for this first time,” admitted Theron.
“We’ll be selecting the 26 players that will make up the final squad from the group of players that have been invited to this camp.”
South Africa have recently returned from a three-match tour of Argentina, with the Baby Boks narrowly losing to an Argentinean XV before beating their Argentinean counterparts 46-29 and 22-13 in two matches in Santiago del Estero.
“We are where we want to be in terms of exposing our players to international opposition as many of the guys that will join us next week have either played in international friendlies against Argentina or have competed in the Vodacom Cup or the FNB Varsity Cup.
"While our Super Rugby players will be allowed to continue to represent their franchises, we have quite a few players who have excelled in the Vodacom Cup and FNB Varsity Cup who have also been selected to this squad.
"The coaches will use this opportunity to fine tune our game structures to ensure that all players that could possibly make the final squad are on the same page."
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Theron will announce his 26-man squad for the Championship in early May, with the Baby Boks to face England, Ireland and Scotland in Pool C in their quest to finish better than the third place they have done in the three previous tournaments.