Whilst all eyes might be on the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Saturday, many South African minds will be fixed on Pool B of the Junior World Championships which kicks off at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham on Friday evening.
News 24 reports that having missed out on the Under-21 version of the competition in Clermont Ferrand two years ago and having finished as runners up, at the Under-19 World Championship in Belfast last summer, the junior Springboks are determined to make it third time lucky.
Gerrit-Jan van Velze, the promising Blues Bulls No 8, heads up a squad that includes 16 members of the South African side who reached last season’s final at Ravenhill.
And amongst that group are outstanding centres Stephan Dippenaar and Stefan Watermeyer, full back Wilton Pietersen and flanker Johan van Deventer – South Africa’s under 19 Player of the Year in 2007.
Dippenaar and scrumhalf Francois Hougaard both boast Super 14 experience with the Bulls, while the current Craven Week Player of the Year Pietersen is one of three squad members to have played for the Springbok Sevens on the IRB Sevens World Series this season.
The two others are Juan de Jongh, who impressed in the Wellington leg back in February, and 19-year-old Robert Ebersohn, a try scorer in the Adelaide Sevens final as South Africa became the first team to beat New Zealand this season.
Core of the SA Under-19 team
“South Africa has a proud tradition at junior international level with many current Springboks having made their name first at this level.
“Our squad includes the core of the SA Under-19 team of last year that performed so admirably before losing to New Zealand in the Cup final,” said coach Eric Sauls.
Scotland’s challenge will be led by skipper Lewis Calder – son of Jim and nephew of Finlay – who admits that his side are desperate to put behind them the ignominy of finishing with this season’s Six Nations wooden spoon.
“We were unfortunate not to win at least two of those games, although the statistics speak for themselves,” said Calder.
“We have worked hard over the past month or so and we are certainly looking forward to the challenge.”
Samoa and the US make up the Pool with the most eagerly awaited game coming on Tuesday when Scotland take on the Springboks.Tweet