Bulls' rising star Moodie headlines Junior Boks squad
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: The Junior Springboks squad for the Under-20 Six Nations Series in Italy was announced, with six players who have the United Rugby Championship experience named amongst the group of 30 players.
The Junior Springboks will return to international action as part of an exciting Under-20 Series, competing against the Six Nations’ U20 sides and Georgia in the tournament that will be staged in Italy from June 24 to July 12.
Bulls outside back Canan Moodie, his franchise teammate Reinhardt Ludwig (lock), Stormers’ Sacha Mngomezulu (utility back) and Connor Evans (lock), as well as the Lions duo of scrumhalf Nico Steyn and loose forward Ruan Venter all have gained some valuable URC experience in the last few months.
These six players, as well as several others, have also featured for their provincial unions in the 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.
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 Stormers, WP, Griquas, and 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 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 Series commitments against England on Friday, June 24, and that will be followed by their second match on Wednesday, June 29 against Ireland.
The South Africans will complete their pool fixtures on Tuesday, July 5 against France before playing a final cross-pool fixture one week later, on Tuesday, July 12, with their opponent to be determined according to the final standings.
South Africa Under-20 squad:
Props: Lamla Nunu (WP), Corné Lavagna (Bulls), Juann Else ( Bulls), Corné Weilbach (WP), Sebastian Lombard ( Bulls), Sivu Mabece ( Bulls).
Hookers: Lukhanyo Vokozela (WP), Tiaan Lange (Bulls).
Locks: Reinhardt Ludwig ( Bulls), Corné Rahl ( Sharks), Connor Evans (WP), Merwe Olivier ( Bulls).
Loose forwards: Ruan Venter (Lions), Cameron Hanekom ( Bulls), Siya Ningiza ( Sharks), Gcino Mdletshe ( Bulls), Paul de Villiers (WP), Louw Nel (WP).
Scrumhalves: Nico Steyn (Lions), Neil le Roux (Bulls), Imad Khan (WP).
Flyhalves: Sacha Mngomezulu (WP), Compion von Ludwig ( Bulls).
Centres: Carlton Banies ( Bulls), Suleiman Hartzenberg (WP), Ethan James (WP).
Outside backs: Donovan Don (Griffons), Katlego Letebele ( Bulls), Duran Koevort (WP), Canan Moodie ( Bulls).