Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko on Saturday named George Cronje to lead the team in the forthcoming U20 international series, while also calling up two more players to his squad.
Nhleko confirmed the Cheetahs loose forward to lead them in matches against Uruguay, Argentina and Georgia, and called up Brandon Wilkie and Kian Meadon (both Sharks) to extend the squad to 30 players.
‘George will lead the squad for this very significant series, while he will be assisted by Jordan Hendrikse and Sasko Ndlovu, the other two players in the leadership group,’ said Nhleko.
‘He is a quiet guy, but the right one to lead this group at this tournament. He leads from the front and leads with his deeds. He is the type of guy that puts the team first and that is one of our values within the group. His character exemplifies that and he is very inspirational in how he brings the team together.’
Ndlovu is a very popular team member, while Hendrikse brings direction in the way they want to approach things, Nhleko explained.
‘Both will assist George well,’ explained Nhleko.
‘Sasko has got great respect among his peers and Jordan is a good driver in the team, and will be important for us in terms of our tactical approach.’
Cronje said the reality of the announcement kicked in only after he was informed by Nhleko.
‘At first I was just happy but, a couple of minutes later, it kicked it that the coach has entrusted our leadership group with an important task, something we will embrace to the best of our abilities,’ Cronje said.
‘It will be important for us to make sure the squad are all pulling in the same direction and aim for the same outcome.
‘We have an amazing group of players here and they have worked so hard to finally get this opportunity to play for their country at this stage of their careers, I do not think it will be a tough task, to be honest.
‘Our jobs will actually be easy, we just need to make sure all the energy and focus flow in the same direction and the enjoyment of the task at hand will follow. We all want to enjoy this moment as well, so there will be smiles on faces, too.’
Cronje said the focus will shift to Uruguay now, the first opponent they will face when the series kicks off at Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch next Friday.
Wilkie and Meadon have joined the squad as Nhleko opted to use the full complement of players allowed for the tournament.
The Junior Springboks face Uruguay on Friday, 18 June, Argentina on 23 June and Georgia on 28 June before the U20 international series concludes with a final match day on 3 July, where the teams will be playing against each other based on their ranking in the tournament.