Cape Town - Four players will make their first appearance at the third SA Rugby Under-20 alignment camp in Stellenbosch this week after being invited by Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux as the planning phase continues for the SA Rugby Academy and SA U20 season in the next few months.
Thabo Ndimande (loose forward), JJ Kotze (hooker), Keenan Opperman (loose forward) and Simon Miller (utility forward) will feature in the camps for the first time in a group of 18 players.
Ndimande and Kotze, in particular, are familiar with a number of the squad members, as they played alongside some of them in the SA Under-19 team on their two-match tour to Georgia late last year.
Of the 18 players, 12 attended the two opening camps, and another two players - 2019 Junior Springbok player of the year Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf), and Rynhardt Jonker (centre) - attended the second camp last week.
“The alignment camps have been valuable in allowing us to work with the players and to guide them in terms of our standards and expectations with an eye on the talent identification process for the SA Rugby Academy programme and the Junior Springbok squad,” said Roux.
“The players who have attended the last two camps are grasping the structures well, so we are pleased with the progress we are making.
“This week we welcome JJ, Keenan, Simon, Thabo and I am sure they will slot in with ease since they have either played with or against most of the players in this group at some stage.”
The fourth and last alignment camp will follow from February 24 to 27, while the SA Rugby Academy will run from Thursday, March 12 to mid-May.
Third SA Rugby U20 alignment camp squad:
Adriaan Alberts (Golden Lions; lock)
Dewald Donald (Blue Bulls; prop)
Sphekahle Dube (Sharks; prop)
Morne Brandon (Golden Lions; flanker)
Celimpilo Gumede (Sharks; flanker)
Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks; scrumhalf)
Hanro Jacobs (Sharks; prop)
JJ Kotze (Western Province; hooker)
Rynhardt Jonker (Sharks; centre)
Keanan Opperman (Blue Bulls; loose forward)
Thabiso Mdletshe (Sharks; prop)
Simon Miller (Blue Bulls; utility forward)
Lunga Ncube (Sharks; lock)
Thabo Ndimande (Golden Lions; flanker)
Evan Roos (Sharks; No 8)
Sibusiso Sangweni (Golden Lions; loose forward)
Cullen van der Merwe (Sharks; hooker)
Emile van Heerden (Sharks; lock)