Stormers flyhalf to join Junior Boks
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse will join the Junior Springboks in the UK after being named in Chean Roux’s 29-man squad for their warm-up tour in preparation for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
The Junior Springboks will face Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday, May 4, Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday, May 8, and England in Worcester on Friday, May 11.
Willemse, who earned five Junior Springbok caps in last year's World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia, returned to the Cape franchise last week to fulfil his Super Rugby duties after joining the SAU20s for the first week of the current training camp in Stellenbosch.
BlitzBok Muller Du Plessis, who departed for the Singapore Sevens with the BlitzBoks on Sunday, will also join the Junior Boks on the warm-up tour.
Willemse will join the Junior Springboks in England for the final tour match, while Du Plessis will fly directly from Singapore to Edinburgh before of their opening match against Scotland.
The only new face in Roux's squad, which will be led by lock Salmaan Moerat, is former SA Schools prop Nathan McBeth. Apart from McBeth and Willemse, all of the squad members featured in the warm-up matches against Georgia in Stellenbosch, which the Junior Springbok won 55-14 and 48-23 respectively.
"The UK tour is a vital cog in our preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship, as we will play three tough Tests against sides who will also be participating in the competition," said Roux.
"Our squad has been together for four camps now, so the players know each other well on and off the field, but we believe this tour will bring them even closer together.
"Several players in the squad have never been overseas before, so it will also be good to see how they adapt to playing on foreign territory in front of passionate crowds.
"With regards to Damian and Muller, it is fantastic that they will join us on tour, and I would like to thank the Stormers, in particular, for working with us in this regard as we build toward the U20 Championship."
Commenting on McBeth's inclusion, Roux said: "Nathan has been in SA Rugby's junior structures for several years having coming through the SA Rugby Youth Weeks and SA Schools team, and he has played with most of the squad members at some point in his career, so it is good to have him the in the group. He also boasts Under-20 international experience after playing for Scotland in the U20 Six Nations, so he knows what to expect."
The team will depart for Edinburgh on Monday, April 30, and will return to SA on Sunday, May 13. The Junior Springboks will face Georgia, Ireland and France in the pool stages of the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France, which runs from May 30 to June 17.
Junior Springbok squad for UK Tour: Zak Burger (Sharks), Phendulani Buthelezi (Sharks), Ben-Jason Dixon (Western Province), Lubabalo Dobela (Free State), Muller du Plessis (Sharks), Schalk Erasmus (Western Province), Tyrone Green (Golden Lions), Jack Hart (Golden Lions), Lyle Hendricks (Western Province), Daniel Jooste (Western Province), Cohen Kiewit (Golden Lions), David Kriel (Western Province), Rewan Kruger (Free State), Gianni Lombard (Golden Lions), Nathan McBeth (Golden Lions), Salmaan Moerat (captain, Western Province), Sihle Njezula (Western Province), Ruan Nortje (Blue Bulls), Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions), Rikus Pretorius (Western Province), Manuel Rass (Golden Lions), Sazi Sandi (Western Province), Dian Schoonees (Golden Lions), Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions), PJ Steenkamp (Golden Lions), Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province), Muller Uys (Western Province), Tiaan van der Merwe (Golden Lions), Damian Willemse (Western Province).