Baby Bok coach Dawie Theron has opted to pick yet another untried combination for today’s IRB Junior World Championship fixture against England in Cape Town, suggesting that after countless camps, warm-up games, squad sessions and two JWC matches, he is still a little in the dark when it comes to knowing who his first-choice players are.
Today’s tie amounts to a sudden death match for the Junior Springboks (as the team has hastily been re-branded) after the shock loss against Ireland 8 days ago. Theron’s men need to win with a bonus point in order to top the pool and progress to the semi-finals; should they fail to do so, they would be eliminated from the competition that many were expecting them to win comfortably at home.
Theron appears to have read rather too much into Friday’s win over Italy, opting to retain the entire tight five who played in that match, despite hooker Jason Thomas seemingly being unable to hit the side of a bus from five paces on a line out throw. The loose trio from the first match has been reunited, with the impressive Shaun Adendorff and the anonymous Fabian Booysen both returned to the starting line-up. Braam Steyn’s impressive showing against Italy, it seems, was ignored, whilst other such as Thomas, Oliver Kebble and Ruan Botha were rewarded for ostensibly doing far less.
Perhaps the biggest shock, though, is the inclusion of 18-year-old Handre Pollard as starting flyhalf for this clash, ahead of the more experienced Tony Jantjies. It is a simply massive, massive call to throw a schoolboy in to start such a crucial match at this level and if we get anything out of this match, perhaps it will be an accurate assessment of whether Pollard actually is the super-hero that some sections of the media are making him out to be.
Friday’s centres, Jan Serfontein and Willa Small-Smith have also been retained, deservedly so, whilst Theron has shocked again by implying that not a single one of the wings picked in his initial squad is good enough to start in hist first-choice 15. Centres Pat Howard and Paul Jordaan will be at 11 and 14 respectively.
The match kicks off at 18h45 today at the Cape Town Stadium
Junior Springbok team v England: 15. Dillyn Leyds (Western Province), 14. Paul Jordaan (KZN), 13. William Small-Smith (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 12. Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 11. Pat Howard (DHL Western Province), Handrè Pollard (DHL Western Province), 9. Vian van der Watt (MTN Golden Lions), 8. Fabian Booysen (MTN Golden Lions), 7. Wiaan Liebenberg (Vodacom Blue Bulls, captain), 6. Shaun Adendorff (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 5. Ruan Botha (MTN Golden Lions), 4. Paul Willemse (MTN Golden Lions), 3. Oliver Kebble (DHL Western Province), 2. Jason Thomas (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 1. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Western Province)
Replacements:16. Mark Pretorius (MTN Golden Lions), 17. Allan Dell (KZN), 18. Pieter Steph du Toit (KZN), 19. Braam Steyn (KZN), 20. Abrie Griesel (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 21. Tony Jantjies (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 22. Tshotsho Mbovane (DHL Western Province), 23. Maks van Dyk (KZN)Tweet