Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Handré Pollard has been selected for the SA U20 squad to play at the IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand this June.
Pollard is already a veteran of the U20 global showpiece. He guided the Baby Boks to the title in 2012, and was part of the squad that travelled to the tournament in France last year.
Apart from Pollard, four other players with Super Rugby experience have been included in the 28-man group. André Esterhuizen (centre, Sharks), Sergeal Petersen (wing, Southern Kings), Aidon Davis (No 8, Kings), as well as Malcolm Marx (hooker, Lions) have all either played Super Rugby or have been part of their respective franchise’s training groups.
Coach Dawie Theron and the national selectors, Peter Jooste and Ian McIntosh, selected the squad following an intensive identification and trials process. More than 50 players attended the training camp which ran for almost three weeks in Stellenbosch and included two trial matches as well as several training games.
The squad returned to their training base in Stellenbosch on Tuesday to continue their preparations for the tournament. This will include a three-match international series against traditional rivals Argentina from 2 to 10 May in the Western Cape.
Theron said the weather and playing conditions in New Zealand, as well as a tough pool draw, will contribute to a challenging competition.
'Our players are used to dry and fast fields and we will encounter the opposite of these conditions in New Zealand. These were obvious factors we had to take into account when selecting the squad,' said Theron.
'We will now intensify our preparations. The series against Argentina will give us an ideal opportunity to test our game plan, readiness and decision-making against a very competitive team and in real match situations.'
SA's JWC fixtures:
2 June: SA vs Scotland (North Harbour)
6 June: SA vs New Zealand (North Harbour)
10 June: SA vs Samoa (Pukekohe)
15 June: Playoffs (TBC)
20 June: Finals (Auckland)
SA U20 squad:
Cyle Brink (Golden Lions, flank)
Aidon Davis (EP Kings, No.8)
Jean-Luc du Plessis (Cell C Sharks, flyhalf)
Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks, flank)
Dan du Preez (Cell C Sharks, lock)
Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks, prop)
Joseph Dweba (Toyota Free State, hooker)
Corniel Els (Vodacom Blue Bulls, hooker)
Andrè Esterhuizen ( Cell C Sharks, centre)
Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls, fullback)
Lloyd Greef (Leopards, wing)
Dan Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls, centre)
Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls, fullback)
Wilco Louw (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Thabo Mabuza (Golden Lions, flank)
Malcolm Marx (Golden Lions, hooker)
Duncan Mathews (Vodacom Blue Bulls, wing)
Mthokozisi (Zee) Mkhabela (Toyota Free State, scrumhalf)
Ngobisizwe Mxoli (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Abongile Nonkontwana (Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock)
Sergeal Petersen (EP Kings, wing)
Handrè Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls, flyhalf)
JD Schickerling (DHL Western Province, lock)
Pierre Schoeman (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Victor Sekekete (Golden Lions, flank)
Justin (JP) Smith (Vodacom Blue Bulls, scrumhalf)
Dayan van der Westhuizen (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock)
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix