Sharks loose forward Phendulani Buthelezi has been chosen to lead the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2019 in Argentina.
Buthelezi, who turns 20 on the eve of the tournament, centre Rikus Pretorius, fly-half David Coetzer (pictured) and prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye all won the bronze medal in France last year. Ntlabakanye played in every match at that tournament and scored tries in each of South Africa’s final two fixtures against England and New Zealand.
Pretorius and number eight Francke Horn have been chosen as vice-captains of a squad that also includes Springbok Sevens player Angelo Davids, who played in in the Hong Kong and Singapore rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019.
All of the players in the squad with the exception of Davids, Coetzer, prop Dian Bleuler, full-back Vaughen Isaacs, utility back David Kriel, second-row Elrigh Louw and centre Mnombo Zwelendaba travelled with the team to the UK last month for the warm-up matches against England and Wales.
“We selected a squad that shows a good mix of players who have featured at a few different levels of the game, both at junior and senior level, as well as a number of talented young players,” said head coach Chean Roux.
“We had to make a few tough calls as always, but we had to select the players we thought have what it takes to compete against the best U20 players in the world.”
Roux is confident in his core leadership group, adding: “Phepsi and Rikus were both members of our squad that played in France last year, so they know exactly what to expect on the field as well as off the field.
“The tournament involves a fair bit of time away from home and it is demanding on the players both physically and mentally, so it will be good to have leaders who can prepare their team-mates for this in advance.
“Francke also led the team with distinction in the role of both captain and vice-captain during our warm-up matches, and we are equally confident in his abilities as a leader.”
Roux’s team will wrap up their preparations for the international showpiece at their base in Stellenbosch in the next three weeks, with the team departing for Argentina on Wednesday, 29 May.
The Junior Springboks will meet Scotland in their opening Pool C match on Tuesday, 4 June, before taking on Georgia and New Zealand in their remaining pool matches.
South Africa squad:
Forwards: Dian Bleuler, Phendulani Buthelezi (captain), Kudzwai Dube, Celimpilo Gumede, Francke Horn (vice-captain), Hanro Jacobs, Jaco Labuschagne, Elrigh Louw, Fezokuhle Mbatha, Thabiso Mdletshe, JJ van der Mescht, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Dylan Richardson, Sibusiso Sangweni, Emile van Heerden, Dameon Venter.
Backs: Thaakir Abrahams, David Coetzer, Angelo Davids, Caleb Dingaan, Jaden Hendrikse, Vaughen Isaacs, David Kriel, James Mollentze, Sanele Nohamba, Marnus Potgieter, Rikus Pretorius (vice-captain), Mnombo Zwelendaba.