Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux warned his team to prepare for a physically demanding and attacking challenge from England U20 when they face off in the first of two games on their UK tour on Friday.
Roux made five changes to the team that started against Argentina in their final U20 International Series match in Stellenbosch last week for the encounter at Butts Park Arena in Coventry near Birmingham.
Two players with Super Rugby experience, the Sharks duo of Fezokuhle Mbatha and JJ van der Mescht, will make their Junior Springbok on Friday, at hooker and lock respectively.
The other changes in the pack are at lock, where Emile van Heerden will start next to Van der Mescht, while Dylan Richardson will start in the loose trio next to SA U20 captain Phendulani Buthelezi and Francke Horn.
In the backline, Boeta Chamberlain will start at flyhalf in place of David Coetzer – who was ruled out of the tour due to a facial injury – while Thaakir Abrahams comes in at fullback for Andrew Kota, who has been named among the replacements.
Roux said they are expecting the hosts to pose a strong challenge: “England are a very physical team and they have an attacking mindset. They are also well coached, so we have to be ready for them and we have to match their physicality.”
According to the SA U20 coach, his charges need to make a step up with only two international friendlies left before they depart for Argentina for the World Rugby U20 Championship, which kicks off in June.
“With England being an attacking team I would like to see our defence hold well, and our scrums and lineouts will also be vital,” said Roux.
“We struggled a little in that regard in our last match, and hopefully they can provide good front-foot ball for the backs. I would also like to see us execute our plays effectively.
“We are still in the process of trying out player combinations, so we will give a few new players a chance in this game. That said there are still a few experienced players in the team, so this will be a good test.”
♦ The match, which kicks off at 20:30 (SA time) on Friday, will be treamed live on Youtube and Facebook.
♦ The Junior Springboks will take on Wales next on Tuesday at the Vale Resort outside Cardiff, before returning to South Africa for another training camp in Stellenbosch.
♦ They will depart for Rosario on Wednesday, May 29, for their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign where they will face Scotland (June 4), Georgia (June 8 ) and New Zealand (June 12) in the pool stages.
Junior Springboks vs England
15 Thaakir Abrahams (Sharks), 14 Marnus Potgieter (Blue Bulls), 13 Jay Cee Nel (Blue Bulls), 12 Rikus Pretorius (Western Province), 11 Caleb Dingaan (Sharks), 10 Boeta Chamberlain (Sharks), 9 Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), 8 Francke Horn (Western Province), 7 Phendulani Buthelezi (captain, Sharks), 6 Dylan Richardson (Sharks), 5 Emile van Heerden (Sharks), 4 JJ van der Mescht (Sharks), 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha (Sharks), 1 Nkosikhona Masuku (Golden Lions). Replacements: 16 Dameon Venter (Lions), 17 Thabiso Mdletshe (Sharks), 18 Hanro Jacobs (Sharks), 19 Janko Swanepoel (Blue Bulls), 20 Jaco Labuschagne (Blue Bulls), 21 Sibusiso Sangweni (Golden Lions), 22 Andrew Kota (Blue Bulls), 23 Sanele Nohamba (Sharks).