Junior Springboks coach Dawie Theron has selected his strongest available starting line-up for the final Pool C Junior World Championship match against Samoa on Tuesday in Pukekohe.
The match at the Ecolight Stadium will kick off at 07h35 SA time and will be televised live on SuperSport.
Theron has again shuffled his match 23 and retained only six players who outplayed New Zealand 33-24 last Friday in Albany, Auckland.
Hooker Corniel Els, locks JD Schickerling and Nico Janse van Rensburg and number 8 Aidon Davis all played against the NZ Under-20’s and will also start against Samoa.
Amongst the backs, the halfback pairing of JP Smith (scrumhalf) and Handré Pollard (flyhalf and captain) were kept intact while Sergeal Petersen (rightwing) is the only other outside back who will start.
Pierre Schoeman and Wilco Louw return as props, Thabo Mabuza is given a first start at no 6 flank while a fit again Jacques Vermeulen returns at no 7 flank after missing the NZ match with an ankle injury.
Duhan van Merwe will play left wing, Andre Esterhuizen is fully fit again after his head knock against Scotland and therefore starts in the no 12 jersey while Dan Kriel moves from inside centre to no play in the no 13 jersey.
His twin brother, Jesse, moves from outside centre to fullback.
The Junior Boks currently sit in first place with maximum points (10) on top of the Pool C standings after two convincing victories over Scotland and New Zealand. A point from their final pools fixture against the powerful Samoan outfit will guarantee them qualification for the semi-finals on 15 June.
Theron said the threat of Samoa cannot be taken lightly. “They showed against New Zealand and Scotland they can be dangerous and we have prepared very well for this match. We want to make sure we qualify for the semi-finals and will play our best team because this is now out most important match,” said Theron.
The Junior Springbok coach said his side will be looking to keep maintain the momentum his side has managed to gather during their previous two pool matches.
“We have done our homework very thoroughly and will leave nothing to chance. This is a very tough tournament to compete in so you have to be at your best in each match,” explains Theron.
The Junior Springboks team vs Samoa in Pukekohe is:
15. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
14. Sergeal Petersen (EP Kings)
13. Dan Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
12. Andre Esterhuizen (Cell C Sharks)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (SA Sevens contracted)
10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls, captain)
9. JP Smith (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
8. Aidon Davis (EP Kings)
7. Jacques Vermeulen (DHL Western Province)
6. Thabo Mabuza (Golden Lions)
5. Nico Janse van Rensburg (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
4. JD Schickerling (DHL Western Province)
3. Wilco Louw (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
2. Corniel Els (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
1. Pierre Schoeman (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
16. Joseph Dweba (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
17. Mox Mxoli (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
18. Dayan van der Westhuizen (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
19. Victor Sekekete (Golden Lions)
20. Cyle Brink (Golden Lions)
21. Zee Mkhabela (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
22. Jean-Luc du Plessis (Cell C Sharks)
23. Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls)