Junior Boks coach Chean Roux ring changes after dismal U20 Championships opener

Chean Roux (Coach) during the Junior Springbok Media Opportunity at Markotter Fields, Paul Roos Gymnasium on March 08, 2018 in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Chean Roux (Coach) during the Junior Springbok Media Opportunity at Markotter Fields, Paul Roos Gymnasium on March 08, 2018 in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Image: EJ Langner/Gallo Images

The Junior Springboks need a huge step up in terms of performance when they meet Ireland in their second U20 World Championship match in Narbonne on Sunday.

The Junior Springboks need a huge step up in terms of performance when they meet Ireland in their second U20 World Championship match in Narbonne on Sunday.

After labouring to a 33-27 win over Georgia in their opener on Wednesday‚ the Junior Springboks can hardly play worse.

Their first half of that match‚ when they trailed 17-12 at the break‚ was dismal with numerous handling errors‚ a poor scrum and failure to dominate the breakdown were just some of the issues that plagued them on the day.

Coach Chean Roux admitted it was a lacklustre and nervy first outing‚ so hopefully the butterflies are out of the system as they face an Irish team smarting after 26-24 loss to hosts France.

Roux has made four changes to the side to face Ireland with two of them injury-enforced.

Wing Sihle Nejzula and centre Rikus Pretorius suffered ankle injuries against Georgia and drop out and Springbok Sevens player Muller du Plessis will start on the left wing while Lyle Hendricks will partner up with Wandisile Simelane in the midfield.

The other changes were at tighthead prop where Asenathi Ntlabakanye comes in for Sazi Sandi‚ and at flank where Ben-Jason Dixon takes over from PJ Steenkamp.

Sandi and Steenkamp have been named among the replacements‚ with the only new face on the bench being centre Manuel Rass.

“We lost two players to injury‚ and hopefully they will be back in contention for selection as the competition progresses‚” said Roux.

“But we have suitable substitutes for them and their selection is just reward for the hard work they have put in.

“The other changes were once again a case of selecting combinations that we thought would be best suited to the challenge that Ireland poses.

“Ireland are a territory driven team‚ and they like to dominate with their forwards in the lineouts and scrums‚” said Roux.

“So our defence has to be solid and we need to oppose their counter-attacks. “We need to come to the party in this game and hopefully we can do that.”

With three pools of four teams‚ the event is cutthroat. The winner of each Pool is guaranteed progression to the semi-finals while the best-placed runner up across the three pools claims the fourth spot.

“Ireland will be very desperate‚” assistant coach Bafana Nhleko said.

“They lost by two points. But we were not at our best against Georgia either‚ so we need to make a massive step-up.

“In a sense it is going to be semi-final for one side and a final for the other because every game is important in this tournament. And how a team moves on with a short turnaround means a lot.”

Wing Tyrone Greene‚ who was one of the standout performers against Georgia‚ agreed that the players understood that it was a sub-standard performance.

“We didn’t start the tournament the way we wanted to‚” said Green.

“We have two big games coming up (against Ireland and France in the pool stages)‚ and we need to improve our performance drastically if we want to get through those games. We have all the ammunition to get the job done‚ but we need to produce a much better performance as a team.”

South Africa: 15 Gianni Lombard (Golden Lions)‚ 14 Tyrone Green (Golden Lions)‚ 13 Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions)‚ 12 Lyle Hendricks (Western Province)‚ 11 Muller du Plessis (Sharks) 10 Damian Willemse (Western Province)‚ 9 Zak Burger (Sharks)‚ 8 Muller Uys (Western Province)‚ 7 Ben-Jason Dixon (Western Province)‚6 Dian Schoonees (Golden Lions)‚ 5 Ruan Nortje (Blue Bulls)‚ 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain‚ Western Province)‚ 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions)‚ 2 Daniel Jooste (Western Province)‚ 1 Nathan McBeth (Golden Lions) Substitutes: 16 Schalk Erasmus (Western Province)‚ 17 Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province)‚ 18 Sazi Sandi (Western Province)‚ 19 PJ Steenkamp (Golden Lions)‚ 20 Ruan Vermaak (Golden Lions)‚ 21 Rewan Kruger (Free State)‚ 22 Lubabalo Dobela (Free State)‚ 23 Manuel Rass (Golden Lions)

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