Six players with United Rugby Championship experience have been named in a 30-man squad by South Africa for the upcoming Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series.
Canan Moodie, Reinhardt Ludwig (Vodacom Bulls), Sacha Mngomezulu, Connor Evans (DHL Stormers) and Emirates Lions duo Nico Steyn and Ruan Venter have all been selected in the Junior Springboks after gaining URC game time in the last few months.
Mngomezulu, Ludwig, Moodie, Steyn, James and loose forward Siya Ningiza also represented Junior Springboks in last year’s successful U20 International Series in South Africa.
And Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko, who has been working with a 36-player SA Academy squad since Easter at their base in Stellenbosch, said he is excited by his side’s potential.
“I believe we have a well-balanced and competitive squad,” said Nhleko.
“We are grateful for the domestic Under-20 competition earlier this year that gave us an opportunity to see the players and select the Academy group.
“We have a few guys who have gained valuable experience in the senior ranks, as well as a number of returnees from last year’s programme.
“Putting in the hard work on the training field is one thing, but actually playing in real matches, especially against experienced senior players, provides even better preparation.
“It was good in terms of seeing how we handle pressure situations and execute our plans against highly organised teams, hence the training matches against the likes of the DHL Stormers, DHL WP, Windhoek Draught Griquas, and Toyota Cheetahs, to test the players in proper match conditions.
“Apart from working with the players in what was a very talented Academy squad, we wanted to give the players an opportunity to see how they handle the quality, intensity and physicality of playing against a number of Carling Currie Cup teams, which is a step up.
“The Six Nations teams have the benefit of regular international competition between themselves, so other than our intensive high-performance programme, we had to find a way of offering quality game-time to our group.”
The Junior Boks will open their Summer Series against England on Friday, 24 June, and that will be followed by their second match on Wednesday, 29 June against Ireland.
South Africa will complete their pool fixtures on 5 July against France before playing a final cross-pool fixture on 12 July, with their opponent to be determined by the final standings.
Junior Springbok squad for the U20 Six Nations Summer Series:
FORWARDS: Lamla Nunu (DHL WP), Corné Lavagna (Vodacom Bulls), Juann Else (Vodacom Bulls), Corné Weilbach (DHL WP), Sebastian Lombard (Vodacom Bulls), Sivu Mabece (Vodacom Bulls), Lukhanyo Vokozela (DHL WP), Tiaan Lange (Vodacom Bulls), Reinhardt Ludwig (Vodacom Bulls), Corné Rahl (Cell C Sharks), Connor Evans (DHL WP), Merwe Olivier (Vodacom Bulls), Ruan Venter (Sigma Lions), Cameron Hanekom (Vodacom Bulls), Siya Ningiza (Cell C Sharks), Gcino Mdletshe (Vodacom Bulls), Paul de Villiers (DHL WP), Louw Nel (DHL WP).
BACKS: Nico Steyn (Sigma Lions), Neil le Roux (Vodacom Bulls), Imad Khan (DHL WP), Sacha Mngomezulu (DHL WP), Compion von Ludwig (Vodacom Bulls), Carlton Banies (Vodacom Bulls), Suleiman Hartzenberg (DHL WP), Ethan James (DHL WP), Donovan Don (Griffons), Katlego Letebele (Vodacom Bulls), Duran Koevort (DHL WP), Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls).