Willemse at flyhalf for Junior Boks
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse will start in the Junior Springboks' No.10 jersey on Saturday against the Free State Cheetahs in their final warm-up match on their training camp.
With Chean Roux set to name his 28-man squad to travel to Georgia for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in two weeks' time, the SA U20 coach stuck to his plan to give all the players in the squad a chance to stake a claim for a place in the final squad.
Only three players named in the starting team were in the run-on side against the Griffons on Wednesday, namely Manie Libbok, who moves from wing to fullback, Wandisile Simelane, who switches from centre to wing and David Brits, who will start at outside centre.
Flank Nama Xaba, who will lead the team, was initially named in the squad to play in Welkom, but he was forced to withdraw before the match due to illness.
The 26-man matchday squad includes five players who were members of the Junior Springbok squad that travelled to Manchester last year. They are Libbok, Embrose Papier, Ruben de Villiers, Kwenzo Blose and Carlű Sadie.
"Our plan from the outset was to give everyone a fair chance to play, and we are excited to see what these players have to offer against a quality Cheetahs outfit," said Roux.
"This match will serve as a tough test from a physical and mental point of view, and that was our objective as we look to test the players under pressure while at the same time preparing them for what they can expect in Georgia."
Papier will pair up with Willemse, who made his debut for the Stormers in the Super Rugby competition last month.
Western Province prop Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, meanwhile, will start alongside the Free State Cheetahs duo of prop Blose and hooker Marnus van der Merwe in the front row, while De Villiers joins forces with Reinhard Nothnagel in the engine room. The loose trio will feature No.8 Len Massyn and flanks Hacjivah Dayimani and Xaba.
Roux is expecting a physical battle against the Free State Cheetahs, and said the match would serve as a solid test for his team.
"The battle up-front is going to be big as the Cheetahs have named a very physical pack, but they also have a classy backline, so we need to deliver a quality performance in all the areas of our game," said Roux.
"We were tested on defence in the last two matches, and we expect another big challenge in this department against the Cheetahs. We still have a lot of work to do on our set pieces, but this match will offer the perfect opportunity to measure where we are in that regard. We know we will have our work cut out against the Cheetahs, but we are looking forward to the match."
Junior Springboks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Wandisile Simelane, 13 David Brits, 12 Cornel Smit, 11 Ilunga Mukendi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Nama Xaba, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Ruben de Villiers, 3 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Kwenzo Blose.
Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Wikus Groenewald, 18 Carlű Sadie, 19 Ewan Coetzee, 20 Muller Uys, 21 Juarno Augustus, 22 Rewan Kruger, 23 Jean-Luc Cilliers, 24 Wayne van der Bank, 25 Daniel Jooste, 26 Boan Venter.
Date: Saturday, April 8
Venue: Shimla Park, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs