Hanro Liebenberg To Skipper Junior Boks

Vodacom Blue Bulls eighthman Hanro Liebenberg will lead the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy next month, SARU confirmed on Wednesday.  Liebenberg will skipper the 28-man squad during the three-week tournament from 2-20 June.  He led the Junior Boks to a thrilling win over the Varsity Cup Dream Team last month and also captained them when they clinched a 2-0 series win over the Argentina Under-20 side in Rosario last Saturday.

The squad, which was chosen by the national selectors, consists of 16 forwards and 12 backs, and includes six players who featured in last year’s tournament in New Zealand.  Last year England edged the young South Africans by a single point in a memorable final at Eden Park in Auckland.  Jean-Luc Du Preez (flank), Thomas Du Toit (prop, both Cell C Sharks), Joseph Dweba (hooker, Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Abongile Nonkontwana (lock, Blue Bulls), Jacques Vermeulen (eighthman, DHL Western Province) and Warrick Gelant (fullback, Blue Bulls) are the players who will represent the Junior Boks for a second successive year.

The Junior Springbok squad shows four changes from the touring group that returned from Argentina on Monday evening.  Lock RG Snyman (Blue Bulls) got the nod to travel to Italy after he sat out the Los Pumitas series because of an ankle injury.  WP centre EW Viljoen and Blue Bulls flyhalf Tinus De Beer, who also did not tour Argentina, were both selected for the Italian job.

The Du Preez twins, Dan and Jean-Luc, who were selected for the 2014 tournament, are also members of the 28-man squad.  Dan, however, withdrew days before the team left for New Zealand last year because of a shoulder injury.  The Junior Boks will assemble on Sunday for their final training camp in Stellenbosch.

They will have field sessions next Monday and Tuesday at the Paul Roos Markotter Stadium, with the capping ceremony scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening.  The squad will fly out to Italy next Wednesday afternoon.  Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron said the squad boasts a well-balanced selection.

Theron says:  ‘I think we have selected a well-balanced squad with the prospect of some really good combinations.  Although we expect dry weather conditions for the tournament, we have to take into account that all our group matches will be played at night.  This is where your combinations will play an important role.  We have a good training camp behind us, culminating in a successful tour of Argentina.  We will now conclude our preparations with two more sessions on Monday and Tuesday.’

The SA Pool B fixtures at the Under-20 World Championship in Italy are:

Tuesday, 2 June
20:30 – SA vs Italy (in Calvisano)

Saturday, 6 June
18:30 – SA vs Samoa (in Parma)

Wednesday, 10 June
20:30 – SA vs Australia (in Calvisano)

The Junior Springbok squad for the 2015 World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy:

Forwards

Hyron Andrews ( Sharks)
Rikus Bothma (Western Province)
Dan Du Preez (Sharks)
Jean-Luc Du Preez (Sharks)
Thomas Du Toit (Sharks)
Joseph Dweba (Free State Cheetahs)
Njabulo Gumede (Blue Bulls)
Jason Jenkins (Blue Bulls)
Hanro Liebenberg (Blue Bulls – captain)
Mzamo Majola (Sharks)
Ox Nche (Free State Cheetahs)
Abongile Nonkontwana (Blue Bulls)
RG Snyman (Blue Bulls)
Jan Van Der Merwe (Blue Bulls)
Frans Van Wyk (Western Province)
Jacques Vermeulen (Western Province)

Backs 

Tinus De Beer (Blue Bulls)
Daniel Du Plessis (Western Province)
Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls)
Grant Hermanus (Western Province)
JT Jackson (Blue Bulls)
Malcolm Jaer (EP Kings)
Marco Jansen van Vuren (Xerox Golden Lions)
Khanyo Ngcukana (Western Province)
Brandon Thomson (Western Province)
Ivan Van Zyl (Blue Bulls)
EW Viljoen (Western Province)
Leolin Zas (Western Province)

Photo credit: Thys Lombard