Damian Willemse. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Damian Willemse. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

The Junior Springboks will continue their preparations for the Under-20 World Championship in France without two of their biggest stars.

The Stormers duo of flyhalf Damian Willemse and lock Salmaan Moerat were excused from the latest training camp as they are now essential to their team’s Super Rugby campaign.

Newly capped Blitzbok back Muller du Plessis has also been excused from the third training camp‚ to be held in Stellenbosch this week‚ because he will be representing the SA Sevens in Hong Kong.

Willemse‚ 19‚ has been in excellent form for the Stormers and was named man of the match against the Blues last week. Willemse scored 14 points in the 37-20 victory.

Moerat has been impressive when coming off the bench but has yet to start for the Cape Town franchise.

Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux invited 37 players to the camp‚ including Willemse‚ Moerat and Du Plessis.

The squad also features three new players: Ruan Nortje (lock‚ Blue Bulls)‚ Zak Burger (scrumhalf‚ Sharks) and David Kriel (fullback‚ Western Province). This is the last of three short camps before the training squad switches into match mode in the lead-up to the U-20 championship in the south of France from May 30 to June 17.

SA will play two home internationals against Georgia and will take on Scotland, Wales and England on a UK tour.

"We are delighted that Damian‚ Salmaan and Muller are doing well in Super Rugby and at the Blitzboks‚" said Roux.

"They will gain a lot of experience and confidence with those teams‚ and that is exactly what we would like from a national perspective."

Roux said of the camp: "It was always our intention to invite a large squad to the first two training camps and then reduce the size of the group as our preparation progresses.

"The inclusion of the three new players‚ however‚ shows that the door is still open for players to work their way into contention for places in the 28-man squad for the Under-20 World Championship.

"That said‚ having a smaller group to work with at the next camp will allow us to focus more on individual skills and to get a closer look at the players as the tournament draws closer.

"We have five internationals lined up before the tournament‚ and this means that we will have fewer training sessions‚ as effective player management will be essential," Roux said.


Players invited to Junior Springbok training camp (March 27-30):

Props: Cabous Eloff (Blue Bulls)‚ Keagan Glade (Golden Lions)‚ Leon Lyons (Western Province)‚ Sazi Sandi (WP)‚ Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province)‚ Tiaan van der Merwe (Golden Lions).

Hookers: PJ Botha (Golden Lions)‚ Schalk Erasmus (WP)‚ Daniel Jooste (WP)‚ Fezokuhle Mbatha (Sharks).

Locks: Ben-Jason Dixon (WP)‚ Salmaan Moerat (WP)‚ Ruan Nortje (Blue Bulls)‚ PJ Steenkamp (Golden Lions)‚ Ruan Vermaak (Golden Lions).

Loose forwards: Phendulani Buthelezi (Sharks)‚ Francke Horn (WP)‚ Shaine Orderson (WP)‚ Ryno Pieterse (Blue Bulls)‚ JC Pretorius (Blue Bulls)‚ Muller Uys (WP).

Scrumhalves: Richman Gora (Blue Bulls)‚ Jack Hart (Golden Lions)‚ Rewan Kruger (Free State)‚ Zak Burger (Sharks).

Flyhalves: David Coetzer (WP)‚ Johannes Steenkamp (Leopards)‚ Damian Willemse (WP).

Centres: Lyle Hendricks (WP)‚ Rikus Pretorius (WP)‚ Manuel Rass (Golden Lions)‚ Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions).

Outside backs: Muller du Plessis (Sharks)‚ Tyrone Green (Golden Lions)‚ David Kriel (WP)‚ Gianni Lombard (Golden Lions)‚ Sakoyisa Makata (WP).