Cape Town - The return of Zain Davids marked one of four personnel changes to Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux’s team for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship bronze playoff against France at the M. Meskhi Stadium in Tbilisi on Sunday.
Davids will start in the loose trio with Junior Bok captain Ernst van Rhyn and No 8 Juarno Augustus after serving his suspension, while Manie Libbok moves from fullback to flyhalf in place of Curwin Bosch, who is nursing an ankle injury. Jeanluc Cilliers, meanwhile, will start at fullback.
The other changes were in the midfield where Stedman Gans will partner up with Damian Willemse in place of Wandisile Simelane, who has been named on the bench, and in the front row, where prop Gerhard Steenekamp comes in for Kwenzo Blose.
On the replacements bench, prop Wikus Groenewald has recovered from the flu and replaces Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, while centre David Brits will fill the void left by Gans’ call-up to the starting XV.
“We chatted to our medical team and had a good look at the state the players are in from a workload perspective, so we brought in some fresh legs,” said Roux.
“But that said, these are the best combinations for this match - a massive game for us. You are only as good as your last game and we would like to go out on a high. The players have worked very hard to get to where they are, and mentally I think they are in a good place and ready for the match.
“It is going to be interesting to see what they are going to come up with, but if all goes according to plan, it will be a great day for us.”
Roux is expecting a physical onslaught from France, who drew 23-23 against the Junior Boks in the opening match of their campaign, and who finished as the runners up in the U20 Six Nations competition earlier this season, and said the first quarter would be vital.
“I think they are going to try to slow the game down and they will want to come hard at us in the scrums and lineouts,” said Roux.
“Knowing the French, the first 20 minutes are going to be crucial as that is where the foundation will be laid. So we have to come out guns blazing and apply pressure on them as quickly as possible.”
The match will kick off at 13:30 (SA time) on Sunday, and will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1 (Channel 201).
The final between New Zealand and England will follow at 16h00 SA time.
The Junior Springboks will depart Georgia on Monday and will arrive in SA on Tuesday.
Junior Springboks team to face France in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship bronze playoff:
15 Jeanluc Cilliers, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Gianni Lombard, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 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 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Muller Uys, 21 Francois de Villiers, 22 David Brits, 23 Wandisile Simelane