Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux made three changes to his starting team to face New Zealand in their World Rugby U20 Championship Pool C decider in Rosario on Wednesday, with Elrigh Louw (lock), Sibusiso Sangweni (flank) and Thaakir Abrahams (wing) earning their first starts.
They replace Emile van Heerden, Celimpilo Gumede and Caleb Dingaan respectively in the starting XV for the vital clash at the Racecourse Stadium.
The winning team will gain automatic entry into the semi-finals as the Pool C leaders, while the losing team will have to rely on log points and possibly points’ difference to snap up the last semi-final spot.
The SA U20s are currently the top team in Pool C with a narrow one-point points’ difference over New Zealand after both sides won their opening two matches with bonus points.
“We had a look at the opposition, and made a few changes,” Roux said of his team selection. “It is important to give a few players a rest, but also to keep the players on form in the team, so that we have consistency.”
The coach expected a big battle against New Zealand and said: “It is going to be a tough game.
“They like to keep ball in hand and they have some exciting runners, so it will be the same as facing any typical New Zealand team, we need to be up for it and be ready for them.”
Roux hoped for a solid performance all round from his charges and said: “Hopefully our defence will be up to the task to put them under pressure, while we also need to win our first phases, as the scrums and lineouts are the foundation of any rugby game.
“If we can do that, I think we will be in with a good chance.”
Meanwhile, South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge will again hold the whistle in what marks the final pool round of the competition as he takes charge of the Pool B match between Italy and Ireland at the CRAI Club in Santa Fe.
Junior Springbok team to face New Zealand:
15 – Vaughen Isaacs (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
14 – Angelo Davids (SA Rugby contracted)
13 – Marnus Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
12 – Rikus Pretorius (vice-captain – DHL Western Province)
11 – Thaakir Abrahams (Cell C Sharks)
10 – James Mollentze (Toyota Free State)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks)
8 – Phendulani Buthelezi (captain – Cell C Sharks)
7 – Sibusiso Sangweni (Xerox Golden Lions)
6 – Dylan Richardson (Cell C Sharks)
5 – Elrigh Louw (Toyota Free State)
4 – JJ van der Mescht (Cell C Sharks)
3 – Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Xerox Golden Lions)
2 – Fezokuhle Mbatha (Cell C Sharks)
1 – Dian Bleuler (DHL Western Province)
16 – Dameon Venter (Xerox Golden Lions)
17 – Kudzwai Dube (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
18 – Keagan Glade (Xerox Golden Lions)
19 – Thabiso Mdletshe (Cell C Sharks)
20 – Jaco Labuschagne (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
21 – Celimpilo Gumede (Cell C Sharks)
22 – Zwelendaba Mnombo (DHL Western Province)
23 – Sanele Nohamba (Cell C Sharks)
24 – Janko Swanepoel (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
25 – Emile van Heerden (Cell C Sharks)
26 – Caleb Dingaan (Cell C Sharks)
27 – David Coetzer (DHL Western Province)
28 – David Kriel (DHL Western Province)