The Junior Springboks squad for the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series in Italy was announced on Tuesday, with six players who have Vodacom United Rugby Championship experienced named amongst the group of 30 players.
The Junior Springboks will return to international action as part of an exciting Under-20 Summer Series, competing against the Six Nations’ U20 sides and Georgia in the tournament that will be staged in Italy from 24 June to 12 July.
Vodacom Bulls outside back Canan Moodie, his franchise team-mate Reinhardt Ludwig (lock), DHL Stormers’ Sacha Mngomezulu (utility back) and Connor Evans (lock), as well as the Emirates Lions duo of scrumhalf Nico Steyn and loose forward Ruan Venter all have gained some valuable Vodacom URC experience in the last few months.
These six players, as well as several others, have also featured for their provincial unions in the Carling Currie Cup, while Mngomezulu, Ludwig, Moodie, Steyn, James, Siya Ningiza (loose forward) all played for the Junior Springboks in last year’s successful U20 International Series in South Africa.
Cell C Sharks scrumhalf Bradley Davids, who also played for the SA U20s in 2021, was not considered for selection due to injury.
Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko said he was pleased with the composition of the squad. He had been working with a 36-player SA Academy squad since Easter at their base in Stellenbosch, before trimming the group to the 30 players who will now don the Junior Springbok jersey.
“I believe we have a well-balanced and competitive squad,” said Nhleko.
“We are grateful for the domestic Under-20 competition earlier this year that gave us an opportunity to see the players and select the Academy group. We have a few guys who have gained valuable experience in the senior ranks, as well as a number of returnees from last year’s programme.
“Putting in the hard work on the training field is one thing, but actually playing in real matches, especially against experienced senior players, provides even better preparation.
“It was good in terms of seeing how we handle pressure situations and execute our plans against highly organised teams, hence the training matches against the likes of the DHL Stormers, DHL WP, Windhoek Draught Griquas, and Toyota Cheetahs, to test the players in proper match conditions.
“Apart from working with the players in what was a very talented Academy squad, we wanted to give the players an opportunity to see how they handle the quality, intensity and physicality of playing against a number of Carling Currie Cup teams, which is a step up.
“The Six Nations teams have the benefit of regular international competition between themselves, so other than our intensive high performance programme, we had to find a way of offering quality game-time to our group.”
A final training exercise against Maties in Stellenbosch is planned for Thursday, and the squad will remain at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport until their departure to Italy in two weeks’ time.
The Junior Boks will open their Summer Series commitments against England on Friday, 24 June, and that will be followed by their second match on Wednesday, 29 June against Ireland.
The South Africans will complete their pool fixtures on Tuesday, 5 July against France before playing a final cross-pool fixture one week later, on Tuesday, 12 July, with their opponent to be determined according to the final standings.
Junior Springbok squad for the U20 Six Nations Summer Series in Italy are:
Props: Lamla Nunu (DHL WP), Corné Lavagna (Vodacom Bulls), Juann Else (Vodacom Bulls), Corné Weilbach (DHL WP), Sebastian Lombard (Vodacom Bulls), Sivu Mabece (Vodacom Bulls).
Hookers: Lukhanyo Vokozela (DHL WP), Tiaan Lange (Vodacom Bulls).
Locks: Reinhardt Ludwig (Vodacom Bulls), Corné Rahl (Cell C Sharks), Connor Evans (DHL WP), Merwe Olivier (Vodacom Bulls).
Loose forwards: Ruan Venter (Sigma Lions), Cameron Hanekom (Vodacom Bulls), Siya Ningiza (Cell C Sharks), Gcino Mdletshe (Vodacom Bulls), Paul de Villiers (DHL WP), Louw Nel (DHL WP).
Scrumhalves: Nico Steyn (Sigma Lions), Neil le Roux (Vodacom Bulls), Imad Khan (DHL WP).
Flyhalves: Sacha Mngomezulu (DHL WP), Compion von Ludwig (Vodacom Bulls).
Centres: Carlton Banies (Vodacom Bulls), Suleiman Hartzenberg (DHL WP), Ethan James (DHL WP).
Outside backs: Donovan Don (Griffons), Katlego Letebele (Vodacom Bulls), Duran Koevort (DHL WP), Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls).