Head coach Katleho Lynch has made wholesale changes to the SA U18 team for their final match in the U18 International Series against England in Paarl on Saturday.
These include handing the captaincy to No 8 JJ Theron, while fullback JC Mars has been named vice-captain.
Only four of the players who started in a 37-24 against France on Tuesday, have been included in the starting team this weekend – wings Scott Nel and Cheswill Jooste, loose forward Batho Hlekani, who moves from No 8 to flanker, and lock Jacobus Grobbelaar.
Lynch was also forced to call up Kyle Smith, who takes over from the flyhalf duties from his injured SA Schools teammate Ian van der Merwe. Prop Ranon Fouche, who was injured against France, was not replaced in the squad.
The two players who were part of the SA U18 Sevens squad at the Commonwealth Youth Games earlier this month, centre Gino Cupido and flanker Marno Stopforth, have both been named in the starting XV.
“Our plan from the outset was to give all the players in the squad enough game time as we need to see who can make the step up, hence all the rotational changes to the squad,” said Lynch.
“Many of the players who were on the bench against France and who helped the team lift the intensity in the second half of that game, will now start and it’s a great opportunity for everyone to test themselves for a second time against a quality international side. I have no doubt we will be better on Saturday.”
Lynch is under no illusions about the enormity of the task that awaits his charges at Paarl Boys’ High this weekend – England beat France by 41-0 last week and on Tuesday, they won 78-15 against the Western Province XV.
“Obviously we have to start much better this time around as we are facing a very well-coached side who play with speed and momentum,” he added.
“We have to try and control that and stop their momentum, but we will also be looking for better synergy between our forwards and backs.”
The kick-off time of the match against England is 3:30pm, with the clash between France and WP scheduled for 1pm.
SA U18s – 15 JC Mars, 14 Scott Nel, 13 Gino Cupido, 12 Janco Purchase, 11 Cheswill Jooste, 10 Kyle Smith, 9 Haashim Pead, 8 JJ Theron (c), 7 Batho Hlekani, 6 Marno Stopforth, 5 Riley Norton, 4 Jacobus Grobbelaar, 3 Jean Erasmus, 2 Siphosethu Mnebelele, 1 Lithemba Mfupi.
Subs: 16 Imaani Pemba, 17 Phiwayinkosi Kubeka, 18 Simphiwe Ngobese, 19 Ulrich van der Westhuizen, 20 Xola Nyali, 21 Christiaan van der Westhuizen, 22 Dominic Malgas, 23 Jameel de Jongh, 24 Luyanda Kunene, 25 Thando Biyela.