Junior Boks names a strong side

South Africa U20 head coach Dawie Theron named a strong team to face Japan in their opening match at the World U20 Championship at the Academy Stadium in Manchester, England, on Tuesday.

Captain and centre Jeremy Ward will partner with JT Jackson in the midfield. Jackson is one of two survivors of the 2015 edition of the tournament in Italy.

The loose trio that featured in all three of the team’s warm-up matches in South Africa, flankers Zain Davids and Ernst van Rhyn and number eight Junior Pokomela, have been retained for the match, while flyhalf Manie Libbok and the Kings scrum-half James Hall will form an exciting half-back combination.

The team also includes a talented back three of wingers Mosolwa Mafuma and S’busiso Nkosi and fullback Curwin Bosch.

In the front row, props Kwenzo Blose and Jaco Holtzhausen will pair up with hooker Tango Balekile.

"We selected a strong team to lay the foundation for our campaign against a highly-motivated Japan side, Theron said in an official SA Rugby release. 

"These players all proved their worth in the warm-up matches as individuals and as combinations, and we are excited by what they can do if they play to their potential.

"The players have settled in well since we arrived in Manchester and I have been pleased with the quality of our training sessions and the players’ attitude, and hopefully they will transfer that onto the field on Tuesday."

Looking ahead at the clash against Japan, Theron expected them to spread the ball wide and test the Junior Boks’ defence.

"We expect Japan to be motivated, competitive and they will try to run at us," he said. 

"They will also put a lot of effort into the set pieces, so we are anticipating a tough challenge all around."

Springbok U20: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 S’busiso Nkosi, 13 Jeremy Ward (c), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Mosolwa Mafuma, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 James Hall, 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Zain Davids, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Jaco Holtzhausen, 2 Tango Balekile, 1 Kwenzo Blose
Replacements: 16 Franco van den Berg, 17 Jan-Henning Campher, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Ruben de Villiers, 20 Denzel Hill, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Franco Naude, 23 Keanu Vers

Date: Tuesday, June 7
Venue: Manchester City Academy Stadium, Manchester
Kick-off: 15:15 BST (14:15 GMT)