BARRING a major upset, the Baby Boks should get the defence of their IRB Junior World Championship title off to a winning start when they clash with the United States in La Roche- sur-Yon, France, tonight.
With tougher Pool A matches against England (June 9) and France (June 13) to come, the South African under-20 side cannot afford any slip- ups in their opener.
After they won the tournament on home soil last year, much is expected of the Baby Boks, even though they have lost two key players.
Last year’s IRB Junior Player of the Year, Jan Serfontein, has not gone to France because of his involvement with the Springbok senior squad.
Serfontein is set to make his senior Bok debut against Italy in Durban on Saturday. He was replaced by Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who played for SA Schools last year and attended the u-20 training camp two weeks ago as a reserve player.
The replacement means flyhalf Handre Pollard is the only member of South Africa’s victorious squad who will be part of the title defence in France.
The other player ruled out was star Southern Kings wing Sergeal Petersen, who has shone in Super Rugby this season. The flyer suffered a hamstring injury in the Kings’ 72-10 loss to the Waratahs at the beginning of May but a scan has shown that he will require a further three or four weeks of rehabilitation.
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