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Junior Boks make three changes, opt for a six/two bench split

By Liam Heagney
The Junior Boks at their media briefing on Tuesday in Cape Town

The Junior Boks have made three changes to their starting XV to host Argentina in Stellenbosch on Thursday. The age-grade South Africans got their World Rugby U20 Championship off to a winning start with a 57-7 victory over Fiji last Saturday at DHL Stadium, but they have now changed two of their backline, one of their pack and altered their bench which is now made up of six forwards and two backs.


A statement read: “Junior Springboks coach Bafana Nhleko has tweaked the starting XV for Thursday’s World Rugby U20 Championship encounter with Argentina in Stellenbosch by making three changes to the run-on side that started in the win over Fiji.

“The inclusion of Bruce Sherwood (full-back) and Phillip-Albert van Niekerk (inside centre) are the changes in the backline, in place of Michail Damon, who will sit out this clash, and Josh Boulle, who has been included on the bench.

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“In the starting pack, Jaco Grobbelaar is set to make his debut at lock with Bathobele Hlekani switching to openside. Thabang Mphafi moves to blindside with Sibabalwe Mahashe moving to the replacement bench. Meanwhile, Nhleko has opted for a split of six forwards and two backs on the bench in anticipation of a huge battle up front with the powerful Argentine pack.”

The coach explained : “Argentina displayed their impressive forward power when we faced them two months ago in Australia, as well as during a strong first-half showing against England on Saturday (in Athlone), so we have to be prepared to deal with that.

World Rugby U20 Championship
South Africa U20
12 - 31
Argentina U20
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“Whilst we wanted to keep the spine of the team intact, we must manage the load of the players sensibly because this is a demanding tournament due to the short turnaround time between matches and being adaptable in different circumstances.

“I am pleased for Jaco, who missed the Australian tour with injury. His selection, coupled with the other tweaks, are part of the process to freshen up the team and also adapting to how we want to play against different opposition.


“We have a hardworking squad who are all contributing positively even when not playing. They are eager to continue with their learning, growth, and togetherness as a group.”

Junior Boks (vs Argentina, Thursday): 15. Bruce Sherwood; 14. Joel Leotlela, 13. Jurenzo Julius, 12. Phillip-Albert van Niekerk, 11. Litelihle Bester; 10. Liam Koen, 9. Asad Moos; 8. Tiaan Jacobs, 7. Bathobele Hlekani, 6. Thabang Mphafi, 5. JF van Heerden, 4. Jaco Grobbelaar, 3. Zachary Porthen (capt), 2. Luca Bakkes, 1. Ruan Swart. Reps: 16. Ethan Bester, 17. Liyema Ntshanga, 18. Casper Badenhorst, 19. Thomas Dyer, 20. Keanu Coetsee, 21. Sibabalwe Mahashe, 22. Tylor Sefoor, 23. Joshua Boulle.

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