TWO EP Kings players, Aidon Davis and Sergeal Petersen, have been chosen to play for the Baby Boks at the IRB Junior World Championship to be played in New Zealand from June 2 to 22.
“It is wonderful news that Davis and Petersen have been selected for the Baby Boks,” EP president Cheeky Watson said yesterday.
“It is very encouraging that these young players are coming through and one day they can go on and play for the senior Springbok team. I wish them all the best for the tournament in New Zealand,” Watson said.
Davis and Petersen have been named in the EP Kings team that will play against a Sharks 15 in a Vodacom Cup match in Durban on Friday.
The South African squad which will take on the world’s best young players, has been bolstered by several players with Super Rugby experience.
Handre Pollard (flyhalf, Vodacom Bulls), Andre Esterhuizen (centre, Cell C Sharks), Petersen and Davis (both Southern Kings) as well as Malcolm Marx (hooker, Lions) have all either played Vodacom Super Rugby or have been part of their respective franchise’s Super Rugby training groups.
The squad also sees the return of several players who did duty for the South Africa Under-20s in France last year, where they claimed the bronze medal.
Pollard, who also starred in the 2012 tournament, Davis and Jesse Kriel (fullback, Vodacom Blue Bulls) all played for the Junior Boks in 2013.
Dynamic wing Petersen, who made an impressive Super Rugby debut for the Kings last year by scoring several stunning tries, was also included in the squad but missed the trip to France because of a hamstring injury.
South Africa Under-20 coach Dawie Theron and the national selectors, Peter Jooste and Ian McIntosh, selected the 28-man squad following an intensive identification and trials process.
More than 50 players attended the training camp which ran for almost three weeks in Stellenbosch and included two trial matches as well as several training games.
The JWC squad returned to their training base in Stellenbosch yesterday to continue their preparations for the tournament.
This will include a three-match international series against traditional rivals Argentina from May 2 to 10 in the Western Cape.
Theron said the weather and playing conditions in New Zealand, as well as a tough pool draw, would contribute to a challenging competition.
“Our players are used to dry and fast fields and we will encounter the opposite of these conditions in New Zealand. These were obvious factors we had to take into account when selecting the squad,” Theron, who led the Junior Springboks to victory at the 2012 JWC on home soil, said.
He looked forward to working with the finalised squad and said: “We will now intensify our preparations. The series against Argentina will give us an ideal opportunity to test our game plan, readiness and decision-making against a very competitive team and in real match situations.”
The squad is: Cyle Brink (Lions, flank), Aidon Davis (EP Kings, No8), Jean-Luc du Plessis (Sharks, flyhalf), Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks, flank), Dan du Preez (Sharks, lock), Thomas du Toit (Sharks, prop), Joseph Dweba (Free State, hooker), Corniel Els (Blue Bulls, hooker), Andrè Esterhuizen (Sharks, centre), Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls, fullback), Lloyd Greef (Leopards, wing), Dan Kriel (Blue Bulls, centre), Jesse Kriel (Blue Bulls, fullback), Wilco Louw (Blue Bulls, prop), Thabo Mabuza (Lions, flank), Malcolm Marx (Golden Lions, hooker), Duncan Mathews (Vodacom Blue Bulls, wing), Mthokozisi “Zee” Mkhabela (Toyota Free State, scrumhalf), Ngobisizwe Mxoli (Blue Bulls, prop), Abongile Nonkontwana (Blue Bulls, lock), Sergeal Petersen (EP Kings, wing), Handrè Pollard (Blue Bulls, flyhalf), JD Schickerling (Western Province, lock), Pierre Schoeman (Blue Bulls, prop), Victor Sekekete (Lions, flank), Justin “JP” Smith (Blue Bulls, scrumhalf), Dayan van der Westhuizen (Blue Bulls, prop), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (Blue Bulls, lock).
The Baby Boks’ fixtures are:
June 2: SA vs Scotland (North Harbour)
June 6: SA vs New Zealand (North Harbour)
June 10: SA vs Samoa (Pukekohe)
June 15: Playoffs (Tbc)
June 20: Finals (Auckland) – George Byron