LIVE | Junior Springboks v England: Friday, 24 June 2022

Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko has named the SA U20 matchday squad for Friday’s opening clash of the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series against England in Verona, Italy, with Sacha Mngomezulu (flyhalf) to lead the team at the Payanini Centre.

The match kicks off at 17:00 (SA time).

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Following an SA Rugby Academy programme of almost three months at Stellenbosch, which formed the basis for their tournament preparations, the Junior Springboks believe they are ready for what will be a demanding tournament, starting with a testing battle against England on Friday.

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“Two years ago, there was no schools and age-group rugby and last year we played in a strictly controlled environment in our home-based international series because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nhleko.

“Now we have a group of players that will sing the national anthem before playing for their country, for the first time. Exposure to international rugby is a great step up in their development and their future rugby pathway.

“That’s the exciting part and these guys have started on a great journey, but we are under no illusion as to what tough battles await us over the next three weeks, starting with England.

“I believe we are well prepared, but Friday’s match will demand a huge effort because we are competing against teams that are used to playing at this level on a regular basis. We must back up the positive attitude and energy with a good application of our game principles and fundamentals from the start,” added Nhleko.

After their opener against England on Friday, the Junior Springboks will face against reigning Six Nations Under-20 Grand Slam champions Ireland and France in quick succession.

Eight countries are in action in the Summer Series – the Six Nations sides as well as South Africa and Georgia – split into two groups of four, with each side playing three pool matches before a cross pool match to decide the winner.

All 16 matches will take place in Italy, with Verona’s Payanini Centre and Stadio Di Monigo in Treviso playing host to all the exciting action.

According to the tournament rules, the matchday squad will consist of 26 players instead of the usual 23, meaning the coaches will be able to use all 11 players on the replacements’ bench.

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Junior Springbok team to face England in Verona:

15 Duran Koevort (WP), 14 Donovan Don (Griffons), 13 Ethan James (WP), 12 Carlton Banies (Bulls), 11 Suleiman Hartzenberg (WP), 10 Sacha Mngomezulu (captain, WP), 9 Nico Steyn (Lions), 8 Cameron Hanekom (Bulls), 7 Ruan Venter (Lions), 6 Siya Ningiza (Sharks), 5 Reinhardt Ludwig (Bulls), 4 Connor Evans (WP), 3 Corne Weilbach (WP), 2 Lukhanyo Vokozela (WP), 1 Lamla Nunu (WP)

Replacements: 16 Tiaan Lange (Bulls), 17 Juann Else (Bulls), 18 Sebastian Lombard (Bulls), 19 Corne Rahl (Sharks), 20 Louw Nel (WP), 21 Imad Khan (WP), 22 Compion von Ludwig (Bulls), 23 Latica Nela (SA Rugby Sevens contracted), 24 Merwe Olivier (Bulls), 25 Paul de Villiers (WP), 26 Gcino Mdletshe (Bulls)

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