Five Junior Springbok stars to look out for

Wandi Simelane. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Wandi Simelane. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

It’s time for the World Under-20 Championships again and, as always, the Baby Boks boast a whole host of exciting players.

The Junior Springboks will yet again launch an assault on an elusive Under-20 World Championship title when they begin their campaign against Georgia on Wednesday.

South Africa once again boast a powerful squad that features two Super Rugby players in flyhalf Damian Willemse and captain and lock Salmaan Moerat.

Seven squad members in the match-23 for the side’s opener played in last year’s tournament, where the Baby Boks finished third.

Coach Chean Roux will hope they go all the way in 2018.

Here are five stars to look out for.

SALMAAN MOERAT (Lock, Western Province)

Salmaan Moerat. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Much like new Springbok captain (and Stormers teammate) Siya Kolisi, the 20-year-old Moerat is a quiet, unassuming young man who made his Super Rugby debut in New Zealand earlier this year.

But his leadership qualities from schoolboy level are well known and his experience of playing in tough circumstances – arguably tougher than anything this tournament can conjure up – bodes well for his side.

Moerat has the imposing frame of physical “enforcer” in the collisions yet can also organise well in the line-out.

WANDI SIMELANE (Centre/Wing, Lions)

Back for a second successive tournament, the gifted playmaker from Ellis Park should now be considered one of the key men in the Baby Boks’ backline.

Able to play anywhere at the back, Simelane has generally found his bread properly buttered in midfield, where his sharp attacking skills and nimble footwork can swing matches in an instant.

He has an eye for the tryline and can also contribute with a decent goalkicking boot.

Simelane will hope to use this tournament to break into the senior ranks at the Lions, who’ll probably have a lot of senior men moving on after Super Rugby.

DAMIAN WILLEMSE (Flyhalf, Western Province)

Damian Willemse. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

One doesn’t require many words to justify this one.

Willemse has made a massive impression in Super Rugby this year, impressing with the sheer composure of his performances.

He attacks the gainline, purposely looks for space and has developed into a very reliable goalkicker.

Had he not been tasked with spearheading this campaign, he would be in the Springbok squad.

PJ STEENKAMP (Utility forward, Lions)

PJ Steenkamp. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

The Junior Springboks’ answer to Danie Rossouw?

Steenkamp is a 1.95m, 100kg hulk known for his abrasive way of playing.

It’s almost guaranteed that he’ll provide front-foot ball whenever his side has possession and, as a lock at school, will be a useful extra option in the line-outs.

South African rugby’s factory of fine loose forwards just keeps on producing.

RIKUS PRETORIUS (Centre, Western Province)

Rikus Pretorius. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Pretorius had barely turned 19 when he was included in the Stormers’ broader Super Rugby training squad.

He even scored a try in the pre-season.

The former Grey College star had been one of the hottest prospects on the schools circuit and had various unions queuing for his signature.

Strong but skillful, Pretorius will look to impose himself this year and then become a senior member next year when he’s eligible for selection again.




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12 January 2019 TURFFONTEIN

hot tips of the day





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