The unity in the Junior Springbok squad will take them a long way in the 2023 World Rugby U20 Championships that starts on Saturday, apart from good preparation and clarity on what they want to achieve.
Their tournament opener is against Georgia at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, with kick off scheduled for 19h00. SA U20 captain, Paul de Villiers, said the team decided to “play for each other” when they assembled for the first time a couple of months ago and they became a closely knit unit after that.
“That will take us a long way, I know, as the guys will really give it their all for the player next to you and that is something that will make this team a tough one to overcome,” said De Villiers.
“We will not give up, because that means you give up on your teammate. And we promised each other that will not happen.”
The hosting of the event is another aspect that will provide energy and belief, De Villiers feels.
“We will be playing in front of family and friends and hopefully a lot of supporters of the team,” he said. “That is going to give us energy, I know. We are lucky to be the hosts and want to make the most of that unique opportunity. “
De Villiers reckons it will be a well-prepared team that will front up to Georgia: “We had a good look at what they bring to the game and we planned accordingly.
“Georgia, like every other team here, came to win the trophy, so we cannot allow our standards to drop against anyone. They are physical and get a lot of energy from set phase play, so we need to counter that.”
The Junior Bok captain also confirmed their own ambitions in the tournament, which is to play in the final on 14 July.
“That decision was not taken yesterday, but the day we got together as a group,” he said.
“And since then, we worked really hard to be the best prepared team we can be when the moment arrives. And that moment is tomorrow in Stellenbosch, where we want to set a standard that will guide us through the rest of the tournament. “
The Junior Springbok team to face Georgia in Stellenbosch:
15. Hakeem Kunene – uncapped
14. Jurenzo Julius – uncapped
13. Katlego Letebele (vice-captain) – 2 caps, 0 points
12. Ethan Hooker – uncapped
11. Masande Mtshali – uncapped
10. Jean Smith – uncapped
9. Imad Khan – 4 caps, 5 points (1 try)
8. Abulele Ndabambi – uncapped
7. Ghudian van Reenen – uncapped
6. Paul de Villiers (captain) – 4 caps, 0 points
5. JF van Heerden – uncapped
4. Coetzee Le Roux – uncapped
3. Mawande Mdanda – uncapped
2. Juann Else – 3 caps, 0 points
1. Phatu Ganyane – uncapped
16. SJ Kotze – uncapped
17. Corné Lavagna – 2 caps, 0 points
18. Zachary Porthen – uncapped
19. Jannes Potgieter – uncapped
20. Gcinokuhle Mdletshe – 4 caps, 0 points
21. Neil Le Roux – 3 caps, 0 points
22. Damian Markus – uncapped
23. Michael Annies – uncapped
Match information – South Africa vs Georgia
Venue: Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch
Date: Saturday, 24 June 2023
Referee: Ben Breakspear (Wales)
TV: SuperSport (Grandstand)