Where are they now: 2008 Junior Springboks (forwards)

In the fourth part of a returning series, DYLAN JACK rewinds to the inaugural 2008 U20 World Championship and looks at what happened to the bronze-winning Junior Springboks.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: 2008 Junior Springboks (Backs)

Nick Koster

A player rated as a generational talent when he was coming through Bishops College in Cape Town, Koster made his Currie Cup debut for Western Province at just 19-years-old. Less than a year later, he made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut for the Stormers, but was surprisingly picked on the wing.

He continued to play for the Stormers until 2012, when he moved to the English Premiership and had stints with Bath and Bristol.

Prior to the 2017-18 Premiership season, though, Koster was one of several players released by Bristol, and he then went on to join Cambridge University to complete a Master of Studies in Social Innovation. He also joined the famous Universities’ rugby team, bringing some individual professionalism to what is an otherwise an entirely amateur first team made up of students.

After retiring in 2018, Koster was hired by Proserv Controls – a technology company – where he currently works as a aftersales manager.

Gerrit-Jan van Velze

The Junior Springbok captain and loose-forward returned the Vodacom Bulls and made his Super Rugby debut against the Crusaders in 2010. Van Velze played over 60 times for the Bulls, before he moved to England with the Northampton Saints in 2012.

In 2014, Van Velze joined the Worcester Warriors – where he currently plays – and captained the team back into the Premiership in his first season with the club.

Luvuyiso ‘MB’ Lusaseni

Lusaseni would have a journeyed career after the tournament, returning to the Sharks before a short stint with Griquas and three years with the Leopards, where he re-established himself as a promising loose-forward and lock.

In 2014, Lusaseni joined the Lions and won the Currie Cup with the team in 2015. Unfortunately, he retired from all rugby in 2016 at the age of just 26-years-old and turned his focus onto starting his own craft beer business – Sanzala.

Johan van Deventer

Van Deventer played for the Lions and Griquas after the 2008 tournament, while he also represented the University of Johannesburg in the Varsity Cup. He currently works as an ambassador for supplements brand NPL International.

Thiliphatu Marole

Marole, who played at loose-forward for the Junior Springboks, returned to Durban and played for the Sharks U21 side in 2009. He then moved to Johannesburg and played for the Lions U21 and UJ in the Varsity Cup, while completing his studies.

After completing his BCom Honours in Investment Management, Marole retired from all rugby and he currently works at Deutsche Bank.

Sabelo Nhlapo

Nhlapo, who came through the Sharks Academy, played at the 2008 U20 World Championship as a lock/loose forward, but converted to playing at prop after the tournament. He played for the Sharks XV until the end of the 2011, when he moved to Pretoria and played UP-Tuks, helping them win the Varsity Cup in 2012.

In 2013, Nhlapo had a short stint with Boland in the Currie Cup First Division and he then moved to the Pumas, where he played until 2016.

Cornel Hess

A promising lock, Hess joined the Bulls after finishing his schooling at Affies (Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool) and played five games for the Junior Boks in 2009. After playing for UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup in 2010, he made his senior debut for the Bulls in the Vodacom Cup, with his Currie Cup debut coming in 2012.

Hess joined Griquas in 2014, but did not make an appearance for the team. He then had a trial at the Kings and earned himself a contract in 2015. In 2016, Hess joined the SWD Eagles and spent a year there, before moving to France with ProD2 side Angoulême, where he currently plays.

Martin Muller

The rangy lock is another who become something of a journeyman, playing domestically for Western Province, the Stormers, Griquas, Cheetahs and the Lions. During his time in South Africa, he won the Currie Cup in 2015 with the Lions.

In November 2016, he left the Lions and moved to Hong Kong, where he became a player-coach with Valley RFC while he transitioned into the corporate life. He currently works as a business development manager for Gavekal Research, a leading independent provider of both global and China macro research.

Jean Rossouw

Rossouw won the Varsity Cup with Maties after the U20 Championship and went on to make his senior debut for Boland in the 2010 Vodacom Cup. He then moved to Pretoria and played in the Varsity Cup for UP-Tuks, before the prop made his Currie Cup debut for the Leopards in 2011.

Rossouw then returned to his home town of George and played for the SWD Eagles in 2012 and he last played for Durbanville-Bellville in 2015, helping them win the Community Cup.

Corne Fourie

Known as a promising front rower who could alternate between prop and hooker, Fourie played domestically for the Bulls, Pumas, Lions, Western Province and Stormers before his first stint abroad with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan in 2018.

In 2019, Fourie left the Stormers and Western Province for a move to England with Gloucester, where he currently plays.

Frederick ‘Frik’ Kirsten

Another prop with a high potential, Kirsten played his entire career at the Bulls, after making his senior debut for the team in the 2008 Vodacom Cup. Kirsten would make his Super Rugby and Currie Cup debut in 2009 and played a total of 81 games for the Bulls.

In 2013, his performances saw him called up to a Springbok training squad, after Frans Malherbe got injured, but he failed to make his Test debut.

Unfortunately, Kirsten was forced to retire in 2014, aged just 26, after struggling to recover from a neck injury he had suffered earlier that year.

Wiehahn Herbst

Herbst made his senior debut for the Sharks in 2009 and would make his Super Rugby debut a year later. He was part of the Sharks team that made the Super Rugby final in 2012 and won the Currie Cup in 2010 and 2013.

In 2014, Herbst left the Sharks for Ulster, where he would establish a place for himself in their first team and made 80 appearances for the Irish side before he returned to South Africa with the Bulls in 2019.

After just a year in Pretoria, Herbst left the Bulls for a move to the Lions and was recently part of the side that made the 2020 Currie Cup semi-finals

Henri Bantjes

Bantjes played for the Bulls and for UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup while doing his BTech in Dental Technology at Tshwane University of Technology. After completing his studies at TUT, he retired from all rugby.

He currently works as a ethics and compliance manager at Takeda.

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Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack