The SA Under-20 squad had their first training session at the Green Point Track in Cape Town on Monday afternoon after the 28-man squad and four standby players assembled in the Mother City ahead of their friendly international against Namibia.
The Junior Springboks and Namibia clash on Saturday afternoon at the Paul Roos Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch in a vital outing for the SA youngsters’ IRB Junior World Championship preparations.
South Africa will defend their JWC title during June in France.
On Monday several key players sat out the squad’s first full field session because of an assortment of injuries.
Southern Kings wing Sergeal Petersen sustained a grade two hamstring tear against the Waratahs on Saturday in Port Elizabeth and the conservative estimate is that he will be out of action for three to four weeks.
Vodacom Bulls centre Jan Serfontein, one of only two survivors of the successful 2012 JWC team, is currently recovering from a lower leg contusion and a hip injury.
Handré Pollard (flyhalf), the only other player in the squad to have tasted JWC success last season, also missed training because of concussion he suffered while playing for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their Vodacom Cup quarterfinal defeat against the EP Kings.
Hanco Venter (scrumhalf, The Sharks) also sat out training because of a respiratory infection.
Meanwhile DHL Western Province fullback Cheslin Kolbe took part in his first training outing with the JWC-bound squad.
Seabelo Senatla and Justin Geduld will join the squad on Tuesday morning after helping the Springbok Sevens to Cup success in Glasgow on Sunday.
The squad will have three more sessions before coach, Dawie Theron will name his starting team on Wednesday.
Despite the numerous injury setbacks, Theron said he was nevertheless pleased to finally have his full JWC squad together. “Some players such as Cheslin have joined us for the first time, while the two Springbok Sevens players will join us tomorrow.
“The injuries are obviously disruptive because we have only limited time available with the players and this week is crucial for our preparations. The next time the squad will get together again is just three days before we travel to France, so from that point of view we always targeted this week as vital in our build-up,” said Theron.
Tomorrow the forwards will have a workout against the Western Province Rugby Institute starting from 15h00 at the Green Point Track.