Big changes for Junior Boks semi-final lineup
After a dismal showing in their final Pool match at the Under-20 World Championships last Thursday Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux had made wholesale changes for Tuesday’s semi-final against England.
Hosts France thrashed the Junior Boks 46-29 in Narbonne‚ but SA still sneaked into the last four thanks to securing a try-scoring bonus point.
Roux has made six changes to the starting lineup‚ while including three players in the match squad who haven’t featured at the tournament at all.
Flyhalf David Coetzer‚ flank Phendulani Buthelezi‚ hooker Tiaan van der Merwe and prop Alulutho Tshakweni will earn their first starts.
Coetzer and Buthelezi joined the squad in the south of France last week as injury replacements‚ and while Coetzer made his World Rugby U20 Championship debut against France off the bench‚ Buthelezi will play his first match in the tournament.
The loose forward is no stranger to international rugby after featuring in the all of the SAU20 warm-up matches in the lead-up to the international showpiece.
Van der Merwe and Tshakweni‚ who both scored tries in the pool match against France‚ will also start in a new-look front row with tighthead prop Sazi Sandi.
The other change to Roux’s team was at inside centre where Rikus Pretorius returns after recovering from the ankle injury he suffered in the opening match against Georgia.
He will partner up with Manuel Rass in the midfield. The bench will also feature two tournament debutantes‚ as prop Leon Lyons - who joined the team on Saturday in place of the injured Nathan McBeth - and scrumhalf Jack Hart‚ have been drafted in among the replacements.
“There was an injury and another recovering from injury‚ while we also opted to bring on fresh legs‚” said Roux.
“We think this is a very good side‚ and we are looking forward to the game.” Roux expected a massive onslaught from England‚ who finished the pool stages as the top team‚ and said: “England are a very physical and well-coached side.
"Their set pieces are very good and they have two brilliant wingers‚ so we need to counter that.”
Roux’s charges worked hard at training this week to deliver a quality performance‚ and he believed that if they played to their potential‚ they had the goods to advance to the final.
“The important thing is not to get ahead of ourselves‚ but rather to approach it one minute at a time‚” said Roux.
“Our defence has to be solid and so do our set pieces‚ and we need to keep the pressure on for the full 80 minutes. If we can do that‚ we should be there at the end.”
15 Gianni Lombard (Golden Lions)‚ 14 Tyrone Green (Golden Lions)‚ 13 Manuel Rass (Golden Lions)‚ 12 Rikus Pretorius (Western Province)‚ 11 Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions)‚ 10 David Coetzer (Western Province)‚ 9 Zak Burger (Sharks)‚ 8 Muller Uys (Western Province)‚ 7 PJ Steenkamp (Golden Lions)‚ 6 Phendulani Buthelezi (Sharks)‚ 5 Ruan Nortje (Blue Bulls)‚ 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain - Western Province)‚ 3 Sazi Sandi (Western Province)‚ 2 Tiaan van der Merwe (Golden Lions)‚ 1 Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province)
16 Schalk Erasmus (Western Province)‚ 17 Leon Lyons (Western Province)‚ 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions)‚ 19 Ben-Jason Dixon (Western Province)‚ 20 Dian Schoonees (Golden Lions)‚ 21 Jack Hart (Golden Lions)‚ 22 Lubabalo Dobela (Free State)‚ 23 Sihle Njezula (Western Province).