Ruan Steenkamp, the Vodacom Blue Bulls flanker, was on Thursday named as captain of South Africa’s Under-20 squad for the IRB Junior World Championship, which will be staged during June in France.
Steenkamp leads a powerful squad of 28 players which include the 2012 IRB Junior Player of the Year, Jan Serfontein, 2012 JWC winning flyhalf Handrè Pollard and Sergeal Petersen, who has starred for the Southern Kings in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.
As part of their final preparations, the SA U20 JWC squad will play the senior Namibian team on 11 May in Cape Town. The 15 forwards will get together from 1-3 May in Stellenbosch while the full squad will be in camp from 5-12 May to fine tune their tournament preparations.
Dawie Theron, the SA U20-coach who last year led the Junior Springboks to their first JWC title, said the national selectors have picked the strongest available squad.
“The identification, monitoring and selection process of this squad started last November, when we staged the first set of trial matches,” said Theron. “An extended training group was then identified. These players participated in various training camps, training matches and also the most recent tour to Argentina.
“I am therefore very satisfied and pleased with the final squad and we now need to fine tune our preparations before we travel to France. There are some exciting young talent, some players with previous JWC experience while others have played Vodacom Super Rugby and on the HSBC Sevens World Series circuit.
“I am looking forward to working with this squad in the forthcoming month and to see them in action in what promised to be a very tough and demanding tournament in France,” said Theron.
Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Justin Geduld are full Springbok Sevens internationals while Serfontein and Pollard were both part of the successful 2012 JWC squad.
Aidon Davis, Sergeal Petersen and Pollard are all members of the successful 2012 SA Schools team, while a further six players – Dries Swanepoel, Jacques du Plessis, Steenkamp, Percy Williams, Marne Coetzee and Serfontein - were members of the 2011 SA Schools team.
Steenkamp led the SA Schools in 2011 against France while he was also skipper of Monument Hoërskool in Krugersdorp during his schoolboy rugby days.
The SA U20 squad is:
Andrew Beerwinkel (Blue Bulls, Prop)
Marne Coetzee (KwaZulu-Natal, Prop)
Aidon Davis (EP Kings, No 8)
Luan de Bruin (Free State, Prop)
Jacques du Plessis (Blue Bulls, Lock)
Robert du Preez (KwaZulu-Natal, Flyhalf)
Ockert du Toit (Free State, Hooker)
Justin Geduld (SARU contracted, Centre)
Irne Herbst (Blue Bulls, Lock)
Jannes Kirsten (Blue Bulls, Lock)
Cheslin Kolbe (Western Province, Fullback)
Sylvian Mahuza (Leopards, Fullback)
Devon Martinus (Golden Lions, Prop)
Luther Obi (Leopards, Wing)
Sergeal Petersen (EP Kings, Wing)
Handrè Pollard (Blue Bulls, Flyhalf)
Seabelo Senatla (SARU contracted, Wing)
Jan Serfontein (Blue Bulls, Centre)
Sithembiso Sithole (Western Province, Prop)
Kwagga Smith (Golden Lions, Flank)
Roelof Smit (Blue Bulls, Flank)
Ruan Steenkamp (Blue Bulls, Flank)
Dries Swanepoel (Blue Bulls, Centre)
Stefan Ungerer (KwaZulu-Natal, Scrumhalf)
Hanco Venter (KwaZulu-Natal, Scrumhalf)
Dennis Visser (Blue Bulls, Lock)
Michael Willemse (Western Province, Hooker)
Percy Williams (Golden Lions, Scrumhalf)
Dawie Theron - Head Coach
Jonathan Mokuena - Team Manager
Dr. Phatho Cele - Doctor
Brendan Venter - Assistant coach
Nazeem Adams - Assistant coach
Norman Laker - Video Analyst
Anuerin Robyn - Physio
Warren Adams - Fitness coach
Rayaan Adriaanse - Media Manager
Yusuf Jackson - SARU Rep