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Junior Boks tweak pack for Under-20 Series Final against Wales

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Junior Springboks head coach Bafana Nhleko has made four changes to his starting pack and rotated his scrumhalves for Tuesday’s Under-20 Series Final against Wales in Treviso.

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Nhleko has selected a new-look front row, with Corne Lavanga, Corne Weilbach (props) and Lukhanyo Vokozela (hooker) all getting a start. They replace Lamla Nunu, Sebastian Lombard and Tiaan Lange, who were the starting front trio against France.

The only other change to the pack is due of injury to No.8 Cameron Hanekom, who has been one of the most outstanding South African forwards.

Hanekom hurt his ankle against France and is replaced by Louw Nel, with Siya Ningiza and Gcino Mdletshe providing loose forward cover on the bench. Merwe Olivier also comes onto the bench as lock alongside Corne Rahl.

Amongst the backs, scrumhalf Nico Steyn gets the starting nod in place of Neil le Roux, who is now set to join the action from the replacements’ bench.

Nhleko said the Junior Boks were mentally recharged and ready for Tuesday’s big clash.

“While we’ve managed to win three games, there is a feeling within the group that we have not played to our true potential,” said Nhleko.

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“We have a sharp focus on getting our detail right, because if we do that then I believe we can increase our intensity and accuracy. Wales are a very well coached and tactically astute side and they showed their big-match temperament by beating a good Italian team in front of their home fans.”

Apart from the enforced change at No 8, the coach described the other changes as part of the overall plan.

“By the end of the tournament we would have played four very physical matches inside the space of just over three weeks and we have worked to a plan to rotate the squad so we could manage the load of the players throughout the Series, as well as give all players an opportunity to play,” he said.

“Our bench and those not in the match day squad all know they have a specific job to perform, and I must add they have done that superbly, to provide quality opposition for the starting team during our training sessions.”

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Meanwhile, Nhleko cautioned that Wales will be an extremely tough nut to crack in Tuesday’s late evening kick off.

“We know what they will bring – they have a formidable team, a good kicking game and serious pace out wide – so our defensive effort will have to be top-class on the day and we must take our opportunities on attack.

“However, we have prepared well and are looking forward to the game. The boys are in a good space and they see this game as another opportunity for an improved performance,” said Nhleko.

Junior Springboks: 15 Donovan Don, 14 Katlego Letebele, 13 Ethan James, 12 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 11 Imad Khan, 10 Sacha Mngomezulu (captain), 9 Nico Steyn, 8 Louw Nel, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Paul de Villiers, 5 Reinhardt Ludwig, 4 Connor Evans, 3 Corne Weilbach, 2 Lukhanyo Vokozela, 1 Corné Lavagn.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Lange, 17 Juann Else, 18 Sivu Mabece, 19 Merwe Olivier, 20 Siya Ningiza, 21 Neil le Roux, 22 Duran Koevort, 23 Latica Nela, 24 Lamla Nunu, 25 Corné Rahl, 26 Gcino Mdletshe.

Date: Tuesday, July 12
Venue: Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 UK & Ireland time; 19.00 GMT)

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