Springbok Sevens newcomers Paul Jordaan and Tshotsho Mbovane have been named in the South Africa Under 20 squad for the IRB Junior World Championship 2011 in Italy from 10-26 June.
Baby Boks coach Dawie Theron has unveiled loose forward Arno Botha as his captain for the prestigious age grade tournament, while centre Francois Venter, wing Wandile Mjekevu, full back Jaco Taute and flanker Siyamthanda Kolisi all return having helped South Africa to third place in 2010.
Jordaan made a promising Sevens debut at the NZI Sevens in Wellington in February, while Mbovane appeared for the first time at the world famous Hong Kong Sevens, having both previously represented the South Africa Under 18 High Performance squads last year.
Theron has been dealt a blow, though, on the eve of announcing his squad with scrum half Ricky Schroeder fracturing his leg during a training session with his club, so a replacement number nine will be added to the 25-man squad in due course.
“We’re playing five matches in 16 days, so it was important for the national selectors to find a fine balance in their selections; we’ve retained a few players who competed during last year’s IRB Junior World Championship in Argentina which will provide their teammates with a bit of insight as to what will be expected of them during a tournament like this,” said Theron.
Making their country proud
“There are a couple of guys who have been exposed to the experience of international rugby after competing in this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series. Then there are a number of players who represented their provincial unions in our local competitions – the Vodacom Cup and the FNB Varsity Cup.
“We’ve won the bronze during the last three IRB Junior World Championships, and one of our goals this season as a team will be to better that record. We have selected a talented group of South African Under 20 players who I am sure are now excited about hearing confirmation of their inclusion in the squad.
“They have the temperament to do well, and I am sure they will be aiming to make themselves and our country proud against the best junior players on the international stage. The players know that they could use this IRB Junior World Championship as a great stepping stone for announcing themselves on the international stage.”
The Baby Boks will assemble for a two-week training camp in Jeffreys Bay on Monday to continue their preparations for a tournament which sees them tackle Scotland, Ireland and 2008 and 2009 runners up England in Pool C.
With only the winner guaranteed a place in the semi finals, South Africa will be looking to hit the ground running against Scotland - a side who failed to win a match in the RBS Under 20 Six Nations earlier this year - in Padova on 10 June.
South Africa Under 20 squad:
Backs: Craig Barry (Western Province), Ulrich Beyers (Blue Bulls), Johan Goosen (Free State), Paul Jordaan (KwaZulu-Natal), Tshotsho Mbovane (Western Province), Wandile Mjekevu (Golden Lions), Pieter Rademan (Free State), Courtnall Skosan (Blue Bulls), Jaco Taute (Golden Lions), Francois Venter (Blue Bulls), Johan Welthagen (Leopards).
Forwards: Arno Botha (Blue Bulls – Captain), Nizaam Carr (Western Province), Jean Cook (Free State), Cornell du Preez (Leopards), Eben Etzebeth (Western Province), John Roy Jenkinson (Leopards), Siyamthanda Kolisi (Western Province), Stephan Kotze (Free State), Francois Kleinhans (KwaZulu-Natal), Mbongeni Mbonambi (Blue Bulls), Nic Schonert (KwaZulu-Natal), Juan Schoeman (Blue Bulls), Michael van Vuuren (Free State), Ruan Venter (Golden Lions).