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Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron on Monday named a strong team to face Japan in their opening match at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship at the Academy Stadium in Manchester, England, on Tuesday.

Captain and centre Jeremy Ward will partner with JT Jackson in the midfield. Jackson is one of two survivors of the 2015 edition of the tournament in Italy.

The loose trio that featured in all three of the team’s warm-up matches in South Africa, flankers Zain Davids and Ernst van Rhyn and No8 Junior Pokomela, has been retained for the match, while flyhalf Manie Libbok and Southern Kings Vodacom Super Rugby scrumhalf James Hall will form an exciting halfback combination.The team also includes a talented back three of wingers Mosolwa Mafuma and S’busiso Nkosi and fullback Curwin Bosch.

In the front row, props Kwenzo Blose and Jaco Holtzhausen will pair up with hooker Tango Balekile.

“We selected a strong team to lay the foundation for our campaign against a highly-motivated Japan side, said Theron. “These players all proved their worth in the warm-up matches as individuals and as combinations, and we are excited by what they can do if they play to their potential.

“The players have settled in well since we arrived in Manchester and I have been pleased with the quality of our training sessions and the players’ attitude, and hopefully they will transfer that onto the field on Tuesday.”

Theron said the weather was surprisingly pleasant in Manchester, and he said if it continued through to tomorrow, it could assist them.

“The weather has been amazing since Friday,” said the coach. “The sun has been shining and it has been very warm. On Sunday the players were scrambling for sunblock at training and we have had to have short sharp training sessions to prevent them from being in the sun too long. This is a real bonus because it is weather conditions we are used to; we have been training in this weather since the squad assembled early in April.”

Looking ahead at the clash against Japan, Theron expected them to spread the ball wide and test the Junior Boks’ defence.

“We expect Japan to be motivated, competitive and they will try to run at us,” said Theron. “They will also put a lot of effort into the set pieces, so we are anticipating a tough challenge all around.”

The match will kick off at 15h15 local time (16h15 SA Time).

Junior Springbok team vs Japan in the World Rugby U20 Championship:

Name Position Province Date of Birth
Curwin Bosch Fullback Cell C Sharks 25 June 1997
S’busiso Nkosi Right Wing Cell C Sharks 21 January 1996
Jeremy Ward (Captain) Centre Eastern Province 10 January 1996
JT Jackson Centre Vodacom Blue Bulls 10 July 1996
Mosolwa Mafuma Left Wing Toyota Free State 13 February 1996
Manie Libbok Flyhalf Vodacom Blue Bulls 15 July 1997
James Hall Scrumhalf Eastern Province 2 January 1996
Junior Pokomela No 8 Eastern Province 10 December 1996
Ernst van Rhyn Flanker DHL Western Province 19 September 1997
Zain Davids Flanker DHL Western Province 4 May 1997
Eli Snyman Lock Vodacom Blue Bulls 25 January 1996
Cobus Wiese Lock DHL Western Province 2 June 1997
Jaco Holtzhausen Prop Vodacom Blue Bulls 12 January 1996
Tango Balekile Hooker Eastern Province 7 March 1996
Kwenzo Blose Prop Toyota Free State 12 May 1997
Franco van den Berg Prop Vodacom Blue Bulls 31 October 1996
Jan-Henning Campher Hooker Vodacom Blue Bulls 10 December 1996
Carlü Sadie Prop DHL Western Province 7 September 1997
Ruben de Villiers Lock DHL Western Province 22 March 1997
Denzel Hill No 8 Vodacom Blue Bulls 17 January 1996
Embrose Papier Scrumhalf Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 April 1997
Franco Naude Centre Vodacom Blue Bulls 28 March 1996
Keanu Vers Fullback Eastern Province 4 February 1996


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