South Africa Under 20 coach Dawie Theron kicked off his preparations for the IRB Junior World Championship 2014 in New Zealand on Thursday when he explained his training and planning schedule to a large group of selected players in Johannesburg.
The Junior Springbok coach was accompanied by members of the SARU Development department and the SARU Mobi-Unit during his visit where he presented the preparation plan for JWC 2014 as South Africa bid to reclaim the title they won on home soil in 2012.
Theron announced a group of 76 players earlier in the week and the preparation will include three training camps before the 28-man squad for JWC 2014 is announced in April. The Junior Springboks will then play their traditional three-match series with their Argentina counterparts.
Players from the Golden Lions, Vodacom Blue Bulls, Platinum Leopards, Toyota Free State Cheetahs, EP Kings and The Cell C Sharks attended the session in Johannesburg. The group will hold a similar one-day camp next Thursday in Stellenbosch for the DHL Western Province-based players.
“This was the first time that, in the build up to the JWC tournament, we hosted all the SA Under 20 hopefuls in one location to share with them our objectives for the tournament,” said Theron after the session in Johannesburg.
“Next week we will make the same presentation to the Western Province-based players. On conclusion of that meeting, we would then have shared our vision for the SA Under 20 team to the large group of players who were selected to join our training camps.”
Theron, now preparing for his fourth Junior World Championship campaign, was excited by the enthusiasm of the players when he met them on Thursday.
“I am really pleased and excited by what I’ve seen from the players. They were very good in their interaction with our representatives who delivered their respective presentations. For me it is an exciting prospect that all of them are so enthusiastic and have a huge desire be part of our SA Under 20 brand and to play international rugby.
“We’ve made it clear to them that we will use our structures to monitor their progress closely from now until next the camp in Stellenbosch, which will also serve as our trials. Each one of them will be loaded onto our Footprint monitoring system, and we will interact with them on a regular basis going forward.”
The 76-strong training group contains a number of players who helped South Africa finish third at JWC 2013 in France, including Handré Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Aidon Davies, as well as Sergeal Petersen who missed the showpiece event through injury.
South Africa will face host nation and four-times champions New Zealand, Scotland and Samoa in Pool C at the 2014 edition, which takes place in Auckland from 2-20 June.
Relive South Africa v New Zealand third place play-off from JWC 2013
South Africa Under 20 training group:
Handré Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Duhan van der Merwe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Dan Kriel, Keagon Gordan, Kobus Marais, Warrick Gelant, Ganfred May, Marcus Kleinbooi, Duncan Mathews, JP Smith, Corniel Els, Wilco Louw, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Pierre Schoeman, Abongile Nonkontwana, Janse van Rensburg, RG Snyman, Heinrich Viljoen, Justin Basson (all Blue Bulls), Malcom Marx, Michael Hazner, Ramone Samuels, Jaco Van der Walt, Jano Venter, Thabo Mabuza, Vincent Maropeng, Victor Sisekete, JP du Preez, Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Vermeulen, Cyle Brink, Dylan Smith (all Golden Lions), Jaco Botha, Kock Marx, Dean Stokes, Lloyd Greef (all Leopards), Ox Noche, Joseph Dweba, Mthokozisi Mkhabela, Nicolaas Lee, Marthinus Oosthuizen, Jandré Slabbert (all Free State), Aidon Davis, Sergeal Petersen, Kevin Kaba, Alrin Eksteen (all Kings), Andre Esterhuizen, Thomas du Toit, Gideon Koegelenberg, Chris de Beer, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Neil Maritz, Sandile Khubeka, Cameron Wright, Ayron Schramm, Ray Williams, Sias Koen (all Sharks), Ryno Eksteen, JD Schickerling, Jacques Vermeulen, Rikus Bothma, Daniel du Plessis, Jarryd Sage, SP Ferreira, Justin Philips, Dewald Naudé, Grant Hermanus, Chad Solomon, Wesley Adonis, Frans van Wyk (all Western Province).