Junior Springboks shuffle team for Argentina clash

rugby10 May 2024 09:53
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Zachary Porthen © Gallo Images

Zachary Porthen resumes the captaincy of a reshuffled Junior Springboks starting line-up for Sunday’s final Under-20 Rugby Championship match against Argentina at the Sunshine Coast Stadium in Bokarina on the eastern seaboard of Queensland in Australia.

Porthen was not considered for the previous encounter with Australia because of a hand injury, but he is back in the starting line-up to lead a Junior Bok team showing a number of changes for their third and final fixture of the new Sanzaar competition.

Only four players in the starting team will run out in the same positions they played against Australia – JF van Heerden (lock), who captained the SA U20s against Australia, Tiaan Jacobs (No 8), Litelihle Bester (left wing) and Jurenzo Julius (outside centre).

Another three players will again start, but in different positions – Bathobele Hlekani (flanker/lock), as well as Josh Boulle and Phillip Albert van Niekerk (utility backs).

Among the forward there is a new-look front row consisting of props Ruan Swart and Porthen and hooker Juan Smal. Van Heerden forms the tweaked lock combination with Thomas Dyer, while Hlanki, Sibabalwe Mahashe (flankers) and Jacobs (No 8) form the loose trio.

In the reshuffled backline, Bruce Sherwood moves from his regular midfield position to fullback, Joel Leotlela comes in for Boulle at right wing, with Boulle shifting to inside centre. Van Niekerk moves from inside centre to flyhalf and the scrumhalf jersey is handed to Ezekiel Ngobeni with Asad Moos now playing off the bench.

Liyema Ntshanga, Casper Badenhorst (front rankers) and JC Mars (utility back) were retained on the replacement bench, while Adam de Waal and Michail Damon were not considered for selection due to injuries.

Junior Bok head coach Bafana Nhleko said the team wants to show an improvement in their performance and play to their potential, which was not the case in their draw with New Zealand and defeat to Australia.

“We all realise the quality of play in the two previous two matches were not up to our standards and it’s the small margins that keep hurting us,” said Nhleko.

“Growth is about applying the learnings and I hope we can showcase the ability we have within the group.”

According to the SA U20 coach, his team wants to shake off their frustrating inconsistency and error rate: “Up to now we’ve not been able to string together significant passages of play to get rewards, thus releasing pressure for the opposition and we have not managed the game well, when we have taken the lead in both games.

“Despite those shortcomings we still managed to keep ourselves in contention right until the end of both games, which proves our fighting spirit and parts of our ability.

“We have worked hard to rectify those areas and have prepared well, now the players must go out and show what they can do. Argentina demonstrated their ability against Australia especially at set piece and they, just like us, would want to bounce back from their disappointment against New Zealand, so we must show the right attitude to meet that challenge,” added Nhleko.

The match kicks off at 13h30 (05h30 SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport. Australia and New Zealand play the final tournament fixture.

Team to face Argentina:

15 Bruce Sherwood

14 Joel Leotlela

13 Jurenzo Julius (vice-captain)

12 Joshua Boulle

11 Litelihle Bester

10 Philip-Albert van Niekerk

9 Ezekiel Ngobeni

8 Tiaan Jacobs

7 Bathobele Hlekani

6 Sibabalwe Mahashe

5 JF van Heerden (vice-captain)

4 Thomas Dyer

3 Zachary Porthen (captain)

2 Juan Smal

1 Ruan Swart


16 Ethan Bester

17 Liyema Ntshanga

18 Casper Badenhorst

19 Thabang Mphafi

20 Divan Fuller

21 Asad Moos

22 Thurlon Williams

23 JC Mars