Five South African players to watch at World Rugby U20 Championship
The Baby Boks arrived at their training base at Gruissan last weekend, having done most of their preparation at home.
Next up for the Junior Springboks is Ireland, who they face on Sunday June 3rd, followed by hosts France next Thursday, June 7th.
Salmaan Moerat (lock, captain)
Hailing from Paarl in the Western Cape, the Moerats are arguably the most successful sporting family in South Africa. Their achievements can be traced all the way back to 1944, when Moutie Moerat and his brother in law, Esa Abrahams, founded Vineyards RFC – a club which still exists today.
Fast forward 72 years and a 19-year-old Salmaan Moerat has now been handed the baton of continuing the family’s legacy. With such a rich family history in the sport, it was almost certain that he would follow in the steps of those family members before him.
Salmaan’s cousin Ebrahim Moerat played for the SA Under-21 team in 2003.
Damian Willemse (flyhalf)
He was earmarked to be a Springbok when – only months after finishing school – he made Super Rugby debut at the age of 18 years, 301 days – in Round Three of the 2017 season.
He has been the regular starting flyhalf for the franchise in 2018 season, but it was wisely decided to give him time to mature and give him his first taste of ‘international’ rugby in the junior ranks.
Willemse is the younger brother of Ramone Samuels, the current Stormers hooker.
Both brothers were members of the Western Province squad that won the 2017 Currie Cup.
Wandisile Simelane (centre)
The exciting centre first burst into the spotlight as one of the stand-out players at the 2016 Craven Week schoolboy tournament.
A strong carrier of the ball, with a good rugby brain. versatile enough to play anywhere in the backline.
Also featured prominently for Wits University in the 2017 Varsity Cup, as well as the SA U20 team last year.
An interesting fact about Wandisile Simelane is that he is also a great footballer and he feels, if he hadn’t become so successful in rugby, he probably would have gone on to play soccer as he represented Soweto Giants Moroka Swallows at junior level but had to leave that behind for the oval ball.
Muller du Plessis (Utility back)
The South African Sevens team has been a superb breeding ground for future stars and it has introduced the world to another of the country’s talented youngsters.
The 19-year-old became BlitzBok No.168 when he took to the field in the United States leg of the World Series in March.
This time last year, Du Plessis was a matric pupil at Paarl Gimnasium and captain of the school’s first XV. He was subsequently invited to join the SA Sevens Academy in Stellenbosch and has since been fast-tracked into the BlitzBoks set-up.
Du Plessis has played in four tournaments of this season’s Sevens World Series, scoring 11 tries.
Rewan Kruger (scrumhalf)
The 2016 SA Schools player is a product of the Varsity Cup conveyor belt – where he represented Shimlas in 2017.
The 20-year-old has joined the fast-growing list of players using the Varsity Cup to launch their careers.
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