U-20 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Junior Bok coach shuffles squad for hosts France
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux has overhauled his team for the final Under-20 World Championship pool match against France on Thursday.
Injuries dictated some of the changes — at flyhalf and wing where Damian Willemse and Muller du Plessis were ruled out of the tournament after sustaining injuries in the 30-17 win over Ireland on Sunday — while others were tactical.
Wandisile Simelane, who scored a hat-trick against Ireland, moves from centre to wing, replacing Du Plessis and Lubabalo Dobela comes in at flyhalf for Willemse.
Dobela will make his first start in the competition, while Simelane’s switch causes Manuel Rass to start in the midfield with Lyle Hendricks.
Flank PJ Steenkamp will join Dian Schoonees and Muller Uys in the loose trio, and Ruan Vermaak partners with captain Salmaan Moerat at lock.
The other change in the starting team is at hooker, where Schalk Erasmus comes in for Daniel Jooste, who suffered a rib injury at training on Tuesday.
On the bench, versatile front-rower Tiaan van der Merwe provides cover at hooker, and David Coetzer at flyhalf. Both are in line for their World Rugby U-20 Championship debuts.
Winger Sihle Njezula makes a welcome return to the match-day squad among the replacements after recovering from the ankle injury he suffered during the 33-27 win over Georgia in the first round.
"Unfortunately we had a few injuries, but we also looked at the group as a whole, and the players that are coming in deserve their places in the squad," Roux said.
"This is a reward for all their hard work, and I believe they will make a big contribution.
"It is a big challenge to face the host nation. They will be passionate and so will their supporters, and as a team they are big and strong. But we are looking forward to it and we are excited about the match."
His charges knew what they had to do to ensure that they guarantee their place in the semifinal, he said.
"We are moving in the right direction as a team, and getting better as the tournament progresses, although we still haven’t played to our full potential. The important thing will be to put in a proper 80-minute performance, as opposed to playing in patches," Roux said.