Golden Lions Under-21 Championship head coach Bafana Nhleko has been added to a trimmed down Junior Springbok management team as assistant coach for the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France from 30 May to 17 June.
The 35-year-old Nhleko, who has been in the Xerox Golden Lions’ coaching structures since 2011, replaces Mzwandile Stick, who will assist the Springboks this year.
Nhleko steered the union’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge team to the semi-finals last year, while he also coached the team in the Currie Cup qualifiers in 2016. He has been the union’s U21 coach since 2016 – a role he will continue to fulfil this year.
“Bafana has progressed steadily through the coaching structures at the Golden Lions in the last few years, and we are delighted that he will join the Junior Springboks as an assistant coach,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“He has a solid coaching track record having steered the Golden Lions U21s to victory in the 2016 SA Rugby U21 Championship, while he also guided their U21s and SuperSport Rugby Challenge teams to their respective semi-finals last year, so we are confident that he will add value to Chean Roux’s team.
“His experience of working with U21 players will also be invaluable as the coaches lay the foundation for the SA U20s to improve on their third-place finish in the tournament in Georgia last year.”Dr Jerome Mampane (team doctor), Karabo Morokane (physiotherapist), Johan van Wyk – from the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport – (strength and conditioning coach), Louis Koen (SA Rugby High Performance Manager) and Zeena Isaacs-Van Tonder (media manager) will continue in their roles from last year, while Chris Venter is the technical analyst.
The Junior Springbok training squad kicked off their preparations for the international spectacle with a camp in Stellenbosch last week, and they will assemble again on Tuesday 6 March for their second of three four-day training camps.
Junior Springbok management team:
Head coach – Chean Roux
Assistant coach – Bafana Nhleko
Assistant coach/SA Rugby High Performance Manager – Louis Koen
Doctor – Jerome Mampane
Physiotherapist – Karabo Morokane
Strength and conditioning coach – Johan van Wyk
Technical analyst – Chris Venter
Media manager – Zeena Isaacs-Van Tonder