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Bulls utility back Canan Moodie. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/GORDON ARONS
Bulls utility back Canan Moodie. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/GORDON ARONS

The Junior Springboks suffered a big blow ahead of the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series in Italy with Bulls utility back Canan Moodie ruled out of the tournament due to injury.

Meanwhile, Stormers flyhalf Sacha Mngomezulu and Bulls lock Reinhardt Ludwig have reported for camp after playing in the United Rugby Championship (URC) final.

Mngomezulu will captain the team in Italy with Ludwig and Western Province centre Ethan James named as his vice-captains.

Moodie injured his jaw in Saturday’s URC final loss to the Stormers, forcing coach Bafana Nhleko to make one change to the 30-man squad with Latica Nela coming in as replacement.

The exciting Bulls player, who was a member of 2021’s successful Junior Bok team which won the International U20 series in SA, has shown his versatility by playing at fullback and on the wing for the Bulls in the URC.

Nela, who has been part of this year’s academy programme which featured an enlarged U20 training group before it was trimmed to the official 30-man squad, has also played for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy side.

“Canan is an exciting rugby talent and, having had the privilege of working with him last year, I am not surprised by the strides he has made this season with the Bulls,” Nhleko said.

“Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game and his withdrawal gives Latica an opportunity to be part of the tour. He has been part of our SA Rugby Academy programme for the past three months in Stellenbosch and is familiar with our environment, so he should slot in comfortably.”

Nhleko announced his leadership group for the trip, with both Mngomezulu and Ludwig back for second stints with the SA U20 team.

“We purposefully kept the announcement of our team leaders until after the URC final so these young men could prepare as best as they could with their teams and without any added distractions for what was a truly a special occasion for SA rugby,” Nhleko explained.

“The squad worked hard and prepared well during our academy camp in Stellenbosch, and we are all looking forward to test ourselves against some very good quality opposition in Italy.”

The Junior Boks will open their Summer Series commitments against England on June 24, followed by their second match on June 29 against Ireland. SA will complete their pool fixtures on July 5 against France before playing a final cross-pool fixture on July 12, with their opponent to be determined by the final standings.

Junior Springbok squad:

Props: Lamla Nunu (WP), Corné Lavagna (Bulls), Juann Else (Bulls), Corné Weilbach (WP), Sebastian Lombard (Bulls), Sivu Mabece (Bulls)

Hookers: Lukhanyo Vokozela (WP), Tiaan Lange (Bulls)

Locks: Reinhardt Ludwig (vice-capt, Bulls), Corné Rahl (Sharks), Connor Evans (WP), Merwe Olivier (Bulls)

Loose forwards: Ruan Venter (Lions), Cameron Hanekom (Bulls), Siya Ningiza (Sharks), Gcino Mdletshe (Bulls), Paul de Villiers (WP), Louw Nel (WP)

Scrumhalves: Nico Steyn (Lions), Neil le Roux (Bulls), Imad Khan (WP)

Flyhalves: Sacha Mngomezulu (capt, WP), Compion von Ludwig (Bulls)

Centres: Carlton Banies (Bulls), Suleiman Hartzenberg (WP), Ethan James (WP)

Outside backs: Donovan Don (Griffons), Katlego Letebele (Bulls), Duran Koevort (WP), Latica Nela (SA Sevens)

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