Cape Town - Six of the eight players in the Junior Springbok squad that featured in the 2016 edition of the World Rugby U-20 Championship in Manchester will play in Chean Roux’s team’s tournament opener against France in Georgia on Wednesday.
Flyhalf Curwin Bosch, flanks Ernst van Rhyn – the team captain – and Zain Davids, fullback Manie Libbok, centre Stedman Gans and prop Carlu Sadie were all named in the starting line-up for Wednesday's clash at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi.
Another experienced SA U-20 player, prop Kwenzo Blose, will start on the bench.
Bosch will link up with scrumhalf Rewan Kruger in the halfback pairing, while Van Rhyn and Davids will join forces with Juarno Augustus in the loose trio.
The lock combination of 2016 SA Schools captain Salmaan Moerat and Ruben van Heerden, and the front row of Sadie, fellow prop Gerhard Steenekamp and hooker Johan Grobbelaar will complete the pack.
In the backline, Gans and David Brits will occupy the midfield, with Yaw Penxe and Wandisile Simelane at wing.
"The experience the players will bring from last year will certainly be beneficial against France," said Roux.
"They know what it is like to play for their country in front of a crowd and to sing the national anthem, and hopefully that experience will filter down to the other players making their debuts.
"We had a good idea about the team we wanted to select for this match since our holding camp in Cape Town, so it wasn’t that tough to select the starting side. But that said we have 28 very good players in the squad and any of them can play at any time."
The coach expected a tough challenge against France, who finished in second position in the U-20 Six Nations earlier this year, but he was confident in his team’s abilities.
"France are a physical side and they do not like to kick the ball much, so they will want to bring that French flair into their game. That means our defence has to be up to scratch and we need to put a lot of pressure on them," said Roux.
The match against France will kick off at 13:30 SA time and we will broadcast live on SuperSport 1 (channel 201).
The SA U-20s will meet hosts, Georgia, in their second pool match on Sunday, and will round off the pool stages against Argentina on Wednesday, June 8.
Junior Springbok team to face
15 Manie Libbok, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Brits, 11 Wandisile Simelane, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn (captain), 6 Zain Davids, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Substitutes: 16 Kwenzo Blose, 17 Daniel Jooste, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Hendre Stassen, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Francois de Villiers, 22 Damian Willemse, 23 Gianni Lombard