FOUR EP Kings players have been included in a Baby Bok training squad ahead of the Junior World Cup to be held in New Zealand in June.
Kings wing Sergeal Petersen and Aidon Davis were chosen for the Junior Springbok team that played in France last year, but Petersen was forced to withdraw because of injury.
Kevin Kaba and Alrin Eksteen are the other Kings players included in the Baby Boks training squad.
SA rugby bosses yesterday announced a group of 76 players for the start of the SA U20 preparations.
They also unveiled a comprehensive preparation plan aimed at ensuring the Junior Springboks are battle ready for the showpiece.
The main pillars of this plan are three training camps in Stellenbosch, which will see the Junior Springbok hopefuls play a series of trial matches, and participate in three friendly internationals against Argentina U20.
To kick-start the preparation schedule, SA under-20 head coach Dawie Theron, members of his management team, the mobi unit and the development department will soon meet with the selected players in Johannesburg and Stellenbosch respectively.
Players from the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Leopards, Free State, EP Kings and the Sharks will assemble in Johannesburg on February 20 for a one-day information session, while a similar get together is planned for the Western Province-based players on February 27 in Stellenbosch.
The international warm-up matches against Argentina are scheduled for May 9 at City Park Stadium Cape Town, May 13 at the Paul Roos Gymnasium Stellenbosch, and May 17 at the Saldanha Rugby Club on the Cape west coast.
The final holding camp takes place from May 23 to 26 and the squad departs Cape Town for New Zealand on May 26 to participate in the JWC tournament from June 2 to 20.
“We have a different approach this year in terms of identifying the players and also our training group preparations. We have already visited the provinces and communicated our preparation and conditioning plans to them, and we will continue to keep them informed,” Theron said.
The Junior Springbok coach says he is pleased with the quality of players identified for the large training group.
“There are a lot of talented players in the group and it certainly helps us that some of these players, such as Malcolm Marx [Lions], André Esterhuizen, Thomas du Toit [Sharks], Jesse Kriel, Handré Pollard [Blue Bulls] and Ryno Eksteen [Stormers] have played in Vodacom Super Rugby warm-up matches for their franchises,” Theron said.
“We are also fortunate to include a number of players who played last year in France, such as Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg [all Bulls] and Aidon Davis [EP Kings]. Sergeal Petersen is also available after he missed the JWC last year because of injury.”
The SA U20 training group:
Blue Bulls: Handré Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Duhan van der Merwe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Dan Kriel, Keagon Gordan, Kobus Marais, Warrick Gelant, Ganfred May, Marcus Kleinbooi, Duncan Mathews, JP Smith, Corniel Els, Wilco Louw, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Pierre Schoeman, Abongile Nonkontwana, RG Snyman, Heinrich Viljoen, Justin Basson;
Golden Lions: Malcom Marx, Michael Hazner, Ramone Samuels, Jaco van der Walt, Jano Venter, Thabo Mabuza, Vincent Maropeng, Victor Sisekete, JP du Preez, Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Vermeulen, Cyle Brink, Dylan Smith;
Leopards: Jaco Botha, Kock Marx, Dean Stokes, Lloyd Greef;
Free State: Ox Noche, Joseph Dweba, Mthokozisi Mkhabela, Nicolaas Lee, Marthinus Oosthuizen, Jandré Slabbert;
EP Kings: Aidon Davis, Sergeal Petersen, Kevin Kaba, Alrin Eksteen;
The Sharks: Andre Esterhuizen, Thomas du Toit, Gideon Koegelenberg, Chris de Beer, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Neil Maritz, Sandile Khubeka, Cameron Wright, Ayron Schramm, Ray Williams, Sias Koen;
Western Province: Ryno Eksteen, JD Schickerling, Jacques Vermeulen, Rikus Bothma, Daniel du Plessis, Jarryd Sage, SP Ferreira, Justin Philips, Dewald Naudé, Grant Hermanus, Chad Solomon, Wesley Adonis, Frans van Wyk.