Junior Boks name squad for U20 Championship, Zachary Porthen to captain

Junior Boks name squad for U20 Championship, Zachary Porthen to captain

The Junior Springbok squad for the upcoming World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Cape Town was confirmed on Friday, featuring a who's who of the most exciting young talent in South Africa.

Prop forward Zachary Porthen â- one of five players who will feature in the tournament for a second time â- has been named captain of the team.

The other players who also played in the tournament on home soil last year are lock JF van Heerden, No 9 Asad Moos, centre Jurenzo Julius and winger Litelihle Bester.

Junior Bok coach Bafana Nhleko acknowledged the difficulty in finalizing the 30-man squad due to the high level of commitment and desire shown by the entire training group.

"We had to make some tough decisions to choose what we as coaches believe would be the best selection for the competition," Nhleko explained.

"I commend all the guys who have been part of the journey thus far and the sacrifices made, but from hereon, the focus will be towards building cohesion within the squad.

"We are excited for the challenge that lies ahead, the players are keen to create their own story and we can only take confidence from the work that the group has put in."

The training squad reconvened this week to begin their preparations since their return from Brisbane last month, where they participated in the inaugural U20 Rugby Championship arranged by SANZAAR.

Nhleko said: "That tournament gave us an opportunity to play in three very tough, competitive matches, presented us with key learnings and areas to work on, but we also grew as a group. We are keen to keep driving good behaviours and build on the positive aspects of our performances."

The Junior Boks are grouped in Pool C with Fiji, Argentina, and England. France will defend the title they won in Cape Town last year, and the SA U20s will look to improve on their bronze medal from 2023.

The tournament kicks off on 29 June in Cape Town at DHL Stadium and Athlone Stadium, with subsequent pool match days scheduled for 4 and 9 July. The playoffs, including the semi-finals for the top four sides, will be staged on 14 July, with the final and ranking matches on 19 July.

The Junior Boks will start their campaign on Saturday, 29 June against Fiji in the DHL Stadium, followed by pool games against Argentina on 4 July (Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch) and England on 9 July (Athlone Stadium).

Tickets for the world event are priced at R35 for children 18 years old and younger, and R75 for adults and are available from Ticketmaster, with admission including three encounters at every venue.

Junior Springbok squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship

Forwards: Casper Badenhorst, Liyema Ntshanga, Reno Hirst, Zachary Porthen (captain), Ruan Swart, Ethan Bester, Luca Bakkes, Juan Smal, Adam de Waal, JF van Heerden, Thomas Dyer, Batho Hlekani, Divan Fuller, Keanu Coetsee, Sibabalwe Mahashe, Thabang Mphafi, Tiaan Jacobs.

Backs: Asad Moos, Ezekiel Ngobeni, Liam Koen, Tylor Sefoor (Toyota Cheetahs, Bruce Sherwood, Joshua Boulle, Jurenzo Julius, Philip-Albert van Niekerk, JC Mars, Joel Leotlela, Litelihle Bester, Likhona Finca, Michail Damon.

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