Moerat to lead Junior Boks at World Champs
Former SA Schools captain Salmaan Moerat will lead the Junior Springboks at the Under-20 World Championships in France next month SA Rugby announced on Monday.
The towering lock has already appeared for the Stormers in Super Rugby this season and played for the Junior Boks a last year’s World Championships in Georgia.
The 2018 tournament takes place in the south of France from May 30 to June 17.
Moerat‚ from Paarl Boys High‚ established himself as a fine captain for the SA Schools team in 2016 and has been groomed for this role for two seasons and he follows in a fine tradition of Junior Bok captain’ such as Handré Pollard and John Smit.
Stormers teammate‚ flyhalf Damian Willemse‚ will offer great support as one of the ‘senior players’ in the group.
Other players with previous World Championship experience are centre Wandisile Simelane‚ looseforward Muller Uys‚ fullback Gianni Lombard‚ scrumhalf Rewan Kruger and hooker Daniel Jooste‚ all of whom were members of the 2017 SA U20 squad that won the bronze medal in Georgia.
Adding to this experience‚ Willemse has been the Stormers’ preferred flyhalf this season.
Utility back Muller du Plessis‚ who was also chosen‚ represented the Springbok Sevens team during the current World Sevens Series.
In total‚ 22 of the players in Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux’s 28-man squad also have junior international experience having represented the SA Schools or SA Schools A teams in the Under-18 International Series.
Every player with the exception of lock Ruan Vermaak – who is recovering from a knee injury – featured in the warm-up matches against Georgia in April. “This is a talented squad with solid international experience‚ and we are confident in their abilities‚” said Roux.
“We had to make a few tough calls‚ especially after the matches against Georgia‚ but we believe we have a squad worthy of competing against the best U20 teams in the world.
“One can never underestimate the value of playing international rugby at any level‚ so we are pleased that most of the players have worn the green and gold before for both the Junior Springboks and the SA Schools sides.”
Roux spoke highly of Moerat and said: “Salmaan is a born leader. He led the Western Province U18 Craven Week team and the SA Schools team‚ and he did so with distinction.
“He has been equally influential at our training camps since the squad gathered in February‚ and all of the players have immense respect for him‚ so he was the natural choice as the captain.”
The Junior Springboks will continue their preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship with a three-match tour to the UK‚ following their 48-23 and 55-14 victories against Georgia‚ who they will face in their opening pool match at the World Rugby U20 Championship.
The SA U20s will meet Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday‚ 4 May‚ Wales in Cardiff on Tuesday‚ 8 May‚ and England in London on Friday 11 May on tour. They depart for the UK on Monday evening.
The team has been drawn in Pool C at the World Rugby U20 Championship. They will meet Georgia in their opening pool match on Wednesday 30 May‚ and then take on Ireland on Sunday‚ 3 June‚ and France on Thursday‚ 7 June in the pool stages.
Junior Springbok squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship (in alphabetical order): Zak Burger - Cell C Sharks‚ scrumhalf
Ben-Jason Dixon - DHL Western Province‚ lock
Lubabalo Dobela - Toyota Free State‚ flyhalf
Muller du Plessis - Cell C Sharks‚ utility back
Schalk Erasmus - DHL Western Province‚ hooker
Tyrone Green - Xerox Golden Lions‚ wing
Jack Hart – Xerox Golden Lions‚ scrumhalf
Lyle Hendricks - DHL Western Province‚ centre
Daniel Jooste* - DHL Western Province‚ Hooker
Cohen Kiewit - Xerox Golden Lions‚ prop
Rewan Kruger* - Toyota Free State‚ scrumhalf
Gianni Lombard* - Xerox Golden Lions‚ fullback
Nathan McBeth – Xerox Golden Lions‚ prop
Salmaan Moerat (capt)* - DHL Western Province‚ lock
Sihle Njezula - DHL Western Province‚ wing
Ruan Nortje - Vodacom Blue Bulls‚ lock
Asenathi Ntlabakanye - Xerox Golden Lions‚ prop
Rikus Pretorius - DHL Western Province‚ Centre
Manuel Rass - Xerox Golden Lions‚ centre
Sazi Sandi - DHL Western Province‚ Prop
Dian Schoonees - Xerox Golden Lions‚ looseforward
Wandisile Simelane* - Xerox Golden Lions‚ centre
PJ Steenkamp - Xerox Golden Lions‚ looseforward
Alulutho Tshakweni - Eastern Province‚ prop
Muller Uys* - DHL Western Province‚ looseforward
Tiaan van der Merwe - Xerox Golden Lions‚ Prop
Ruan Vermaak - Xerox Golden Lions‚ lock
Damian Willemse* - DHL Western Province‚ flyhalf *denotes 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship player