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The Junior Springbok training squad on Friday concluded the first phase of their preparations for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship with a tough hit-out against the DHL Western Province Institute.

The two teams went hammer and tongs in windy conditions with the WP youngsters providing SA U20 coach Dawie Theron’s side with a proper test four days before the final 28-man squad is named to travel to England in a few weeks’ time.

“Perhaps the first two of our chukka-sessions went too well and some of the guys may have been complacent today, while our handling and lineouts were not good enough,” said Theron after his team’s training session in Stellenbosch.“Having said that, the Western Province Institute played with a lot of passion and commitment and we had our eyes on a few of their players too.

“We were without a couple of our core guys, who are playing Vodacom Super Rugby and Currie Cup Qualifiers this weekend, so we wanted to have a look at some fringe players and after today’s session we are definitely closer to finalising the squad.”

Theron said he will consult with his assistant coaches and national selector, Peter Jooste, before finalising the squad for the tournament in Manchester next month. The announcement is on Tuesday at SA Rugby’s offices in Plattekloof, Cape Town.

“The door is still open for a few players and if we were unsure about certain positions, we have more clarity now,” said Theron.

“We will properly assess the situation with injured players and those coming back from niggles when we discuss the final squad, and while some of the players in camp now won’t make the initial selection, they will know that they can still play a vital role.

“Our depth is not what it was last year and we know the importance of some of our key players, but the players realise that and know we simply have to work harder.”

The Junior Boks will play three warm-up matches before they depart for England, against the Xerox Golden Lions U19s and U21s (in Johannesburg on 13 May), Maties (in Stellenbosch on 17 May) and South Western Districts (in Oudtshoorn on 21 May). They depart for England on 2 June.

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