Pokomela to lead Baby Boks

Date published: June 24 2016

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Number eight Junior Pokomela will lead South Africa in the World Rugby U20 Championship bronze medal play-off against Argentina at the AJ Bell Stadium in Manchester on Saturday.

Pokomela takes over the captaincy in the absence of regular skipper Jeremy Ward, as coach Dawie Theron made six changes to his team.
 
Ward is serving a two-week suspension for a dangerous tackle, which prompted Theron to hand the captaincy to Pokomela. Centre JT Jackson, who is playing in his second successive World Rugby U20 Championship, has been named vice-captain, as the team’s second vice-captain Ernst van Rhyn was not named in the matchday squad. 
 
Saturday’s match will bring down the curtain on Theron’s six-year reign as Junior Springbok coach. He will join the Docomo Red Hurricanes in Japan next month.
 
The changes to the team will see the front row of hooker Jan-Henning Campher and props Franco van den Berg and Carlü Sadie start in place of Tango Balekile, Nicolaas Oosthuizen and Jaco Holtzhausen respectively, while flanker Cobus Wiese takes over from Van Rhyn in the loose trio.
 
In the back-line, Franco Naude comes in at outside centre, while Stedman Gans will make his first appearance in the competition on the right wing in place of Mosolwa Mafuma.
 
Leopards fly-half Benhard Janse van Rensburg, who joined the team on Thursday as injury cover, has been named on the bench alongside Balekile, Oosthuizen, prop Kwenzo Blose, lock Eduard Zandberg, No 8 Denzel Hill, scrumhalf James Hall and fullback Keanu Vers.
 
“The last few days have been tough for the players, with S’busiso Nkosi and Embrose Papier returning home and Jeremey Ward being suspended for a dangerous tackle,” said Theron. 

“We also have a few niggling injuries, which we had to consult the medical team about, and on that basis we made a few changes. This is the freshest team available to take on Argentina.”
 
Theron expected a tough contest against the South Americans, who defeated the Junior Boks 19-13 in their second pool match in the international showpiece, but he said the team was determined to finish the competition on a high note.
 
“Argentina will be very passionate,” he added. “They will be pleased with their performance in the competition up to now, especially since they advanced to the semi-final.
“We are expecting them to disruptive once again, especially in the set pieces. But we will be ready for them.”
 
Commenting on the fact that the clash marks his final match in charge of the Junior Springboks, Theron said: “It is the end of six wonderful years with the SA U20’s, and I would like us to end the tournament on a high note. 

"I would like to see the team go out there and enjoy themselves, and put together a brilliant performance for South Africa.”

South Africa U20: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Stedman Gans, 13 Franco Naude, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9  Marco Jansen van Vuren, 8 Junior Pokomela (c), 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Zain Davids, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Ruben de Villiers, 3 Carlü Sadie, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1Franco van den Berg
Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 19 Eduard Zandberg, 20 Denzel Hill, 21 James Hall, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Keanu Vers 

Date: Saturday, June 25
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium, Salford
Kick-off: 14.30 BST (13.30 GMT)
Referee: tbc
Assistant referees: tbc
TMO: tbc

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