South Africa Under 20 coach Dawie Theron has had a smile put on his face in recent weeks with a number of players in contention to make his squad for the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 on home soil in June getting valuable game time in the domestic Vodacom Cup competition.
Eleven members of Theron’s most recent training squad featured in the Vodacom Cup last weekend. Add to that three more players that are currently part of Super Rugby squads and one with the Springbok Sevens team, and it’s clear why Theron is happy.
“To have more than half of our squad involved in these competitions is wonderful. It not only provides the players with valuable game time, but also helps with improving their conditioning, because the best way to get as fit as possible is to actually play rugby,” said Theron.
“We don’t have a lot of time to prepare for the series against Argentina next month and the game time the players are getting at the moment will definitely assist in getting them ready for a few tough games we’re anticipating.”
The 11 players involved for their provinces last weekend were Allan Dell, Nicolas van Dyk and Pieter Steph du Toit (Sharks XV), Tony Jantjies, Jan Serfontein and Poerie van Rooyen (Blue Bulls), Paul Willemse, Marais Schmidt, Wian van der Watt and Ettiene Oosthuizen (Golden Lions), as well as Kevin Luiters (Free State XV).
Game time crucial
Cheetahs fly half Johan Goosen and Stormers prop Steven Kitshoff have been making waves in Super Rugby, while utility back Paul Jordaan has featured in three matches in South Africa for the Sharks and is currently on tour with them.
William Small-Smith is a member of the Springbok Sevens team currently in Tokyo for the latest round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, while he was in Hong Kong last weekend as the Blitzbokke finished third.
Goosen, Schmidt and Jantjies, the likely kickers for the South African Under 20s this year, are all piling on the points, with Goosen topping the charts in Super Rugby after five rounds and the other two both featuring in the top 10 of the Vodacom Cup.
“One of the issues we’ve singled out that needed attention has been game time. The teams from the northern hemisphere (will) arrive here having played in the Under 20 Six Nations, but this year we have the series against Argentina to help in our preparations, while it’s really good to see the players feature in a senior tournament like the Vodacom Cup,” said Theron.
“A number of other players in our squad have been playing in the various Varsity Cup competitions as well, so I’m happy that they are getting game time.”