Junior Springboks captain Paul de Villiers. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Junior Springboks captain Paul de Villiers. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Nhleko reveals strong Junior Springboks squad for U20 Championship

Paul de Villiers to lead strong Junior Boks side into battle in U20 Championship in Western Cape.

Junior Springboks captain Paul de Villiers. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Junior Springboks captain Paul de Villiers. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Junior Springboks boss Bafana Nhleko has named his squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship set to take place in Cape Town, Paarl and Stellenbosch later this month.

Paul de Villiers and Katlego Letebele will return for their second stint with the Junior Springboks, this time as captain and vice-captain of the South African squad for the tournament.

The Junior Bok squad for the global showpiece – returning to the calendar for the first time since 2019 – was announced on Friday. De Villiers and Letebele represented South Africa in the Six Nations U20 Summer Series in Italy last year.

Junior Springbok head coach, Nhleko, included Zachary Porthen, who captained the SA Schools side last year, alongside two more of his U18 teammates from 2022 in Litelihle Bester and JF van Heerden.

Nhleko also roped in Blitzbok speedster Masande Mtshali, who made his debut for the national sevens team earlier this season and played in four tournaments on the World Rugby Sevens Series.

“This selection is a great testimony of SA Rugby’s Elite Player Development programme paying dividends and I’m very excited to take these players into the tournament,” said Nhleko.

“I believe we have selected a quality group of players with a good balance within the squad. There were guys who pushed hard during the SA Rugby Academy phase but didn’t make the final squad, they can easily slot in if needed as they know our structures and how we want to play.

“I would like to congratulate the players who were selected, but also stress that the real hard work starts now – it’s a massive task to play in a world championship and even bigger privilege to be playing at home, with the challenge comes a big responsibility.

“We realise there will be added pressure because we’re playing at home, but we embrace that as a positive. We have a wonderful opportunity to play in front of our family and friends and in familiar conditions and we need to make the most of it.”

Junior Springboks squad:

Props — Corne Lavagna, Dian Heunis, Mawande Mdanda, Phatu Ganyane, Zachary Porthen.

Hookers — Juann Else, SJ Kotze.

Locks — Coetzee le Roux, Tiaan Wessels, JF van Heerden.

Loose forwards — Abulele Ndabambi, Corne Beets, Gcinokuhle Mdletshe, Ghudian van Reenen, Jannes Potgieter, Paul de Villiers (captain).

ALSO READ: Who will Junior Springboks face?

Scrumhalves — Imad Khan, Neil le Roux.

Flyhalves — Jean Smith, Sam Francis.

Centres — Damian Markus, Ethan Hooker, Jurenzo Julius, Katlego Letebele (vice-captain), Litelihle Bester.

Outside backs — Masande Mtshali, Michael Annies, Quewin Nortje, Hakeem Kunene, Regan Izaks.


Junior Springboks squad named for 2023 U20 Championship
Junior Springboks squad named for 2023 U20 Championship. Photo: SA Rugby.