Liebenberg to lead Junior Boks at U20 World Championship in Italy
Vodacom Blue Bulls No 8 Hanro Liebenberg will lead the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy next month, SARU confirmed on Wednesday.
Liebenberg will skipper the 28-man squad during the three-week tournament from 2 to 20 June. He led the Junior Boks to a thrilling win over the Varsity Cup Dream Team last month and also captained them when they clinched a 2-0 series win over the Argentina Under-20 side in Rosario last Saturday.
Njabulo Gumede, Jason Jenkins, Abongile Nonkontwana, RG Snyman, Jan van der Merwe, Tinus de Beer, Warrick Gelant, JT Jackson and Ivan van Zyl are the other Vodacom Blue Bulls representatives in the team.
The squad, which was chosen by the national selectors, consists of 16 forwards and 12 backs, and includes six players who featured in last year’s tournament in New Zealand. Last year England edged the young South Africans by a single point in a memorable final at Eden Park in Auckland.
Jean-Luc du Preez (flank), Thomas du Toit (prop, both Cell C Sharks), Joseph Dweba (hooker, Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Abongile Nonkontwana (lock, Vodacom Blue Bulls), Jacques Vermeulen (No 8, DHL Western Province) and Warrick Gelant (fullback, Vodacom Blue Bulls) are the players who will represent the Junior Boks for a second successive year.
The Junior Springbok squad shows four changes from the touring group that returned from Argentina on Monday evening.
Lock RG Snyman (Vodacom Blue Bulls) got the nod to travel to Italy after he sat out the Los Pumitas series because of an ankle injury. WP centre EW Viljoen and Blue Bulls flyhalf Tinus de Beer, who also did not tour Argentina, were both selected for the Italian job.
The Du Preez twins, Dan and Jean-Luc, who were selected for the 2014 tournament, are also members of the 28-man squad. Dan, however, withdrew days before the team left for New Zealand last year because of a shoulder injury.
The Junior Boks will assemble on Sunday for their final training camp in Stellenbosch. They will have field sessions next Monday and Tuesday at the Paul Roos Markotter Stadium, with the capping ceremony scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening. The squad will fly out to Italy next Wednesday afternoon.
Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron said the squad boasts a well-balanced selection.
“I think we have selected a well-balanced squad with the prospect of some really good combinations. Although we expect dry weather conditions for the tournament, we have to take into account that all our group matches will be played at night. This is where your combinations will play an important role,” explains Theron.
He added: “We have a good training camp behind us, culminating in a successful tour of Argentina. We will now conclude our preparations with two more sessions on Monday and Tuesday.”
The SA Pool B fixtures at the U20 World Championship in Italy are:
Tuesday, 2 June
20h30 - SA vs Italy (in Calvisano)
Saturday, 6 June
18h30 - SA vs Samoa (in Parma)
Wednesday, 10 June
20h30 - SA vs Australia (in Calvisano)
The Junior Springbok squad for the 2015 World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy:
Hyron Andrews (Cell C Sharks)
Rikus Bothma (DHL Western Province)
Dan du Preez (Cell C Sharks)
Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks)
Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks)
Joseph Dweba (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
Njabulo Gumede (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Jason Jenkins (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
*Hanro Liebenberg (Vodacom Bulls – captain)
Mzamo Majola (Cell C Sharks)
Ox Nche (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
Abongile Nonkontwana (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
RG Snyman (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Jan van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Frans van Wyk (DHL Western Province)
Jacques Vermeulen (DHL Western Province)
Tinus de Beer (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Daniel du Plessis (DHL Western Province)
Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Grant Hermanus (DHL Western Province)
JT Jackson (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Malcolm Jaer (EP Kings)
Marco Jansen van Vuren (Xerox Golden Lions)
Khanyo Ngcukana (DHL Western Province)
Brandon Thomson (DHL Western Province)
Ivan van Zyl (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
EW Viljoen (DHL Western Province)
Leolin Zas (DHL Western Province)