Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions No 8 Travis Gordon will lead the SA Schools team, proudly sponsored by Coca-Cola, when they kick off their U19 International Series campaign on Friday against Wales at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch in the first of three internationals.
Centre Rikus Pretorius, who is one of two players who featured in SA Schools team last season, has been named the vice-captain. The other player who will represent the squad for the second time is winger Muller du Plessis.
England will face France in the first match at 14h15, which will be followed by the SA Schools team taking on Wales at 16h00.
The Johannesburg prop duo of Nkosikhona Masuku and Keagan Glade will partner up with Ruhann Greyling in a solid front row, while scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba and flyhalf Christopher Schreuder will dictate play in a talented halfback pairing.
Lock Juan der Mercht, weighing in at 130kg and 2m tall, will pair up with Cristen van Niekerk, at 104kg and 1,9m tall, in a physical lock pairing.
In line with the competition rules, Sendin opted to name 13 replacements, although only eight will be allowed to take to the field. The sides will be allowed rolling substitutions, which will be limited to 12 rotations.
“We selected the player combinations which we thought gelled well based on what we saw at training in the last few days,” said SA Schools coach Lance Sendin.
Looking at the match, he said: “Wales are always tough customers. They usually have a well-balanced side with big forwards and skilled backs, so we are expecting a physical encounter, while we will also be tested on defence. We need to be well prepared to counter their strengths.”
With the SA Schools team finishing last year’s tournament unbeaten, Sendin was confident that his charges were up for the challenge and said: “It was a challenge at first, but after getting to know one another, the players have responded well to the pressure. They are all looking forward to the first match.”
Scholars will be allowed free entry to Paul Roos Gymnasium for Friday’s matches, while the entrance fee for over 18’s is R20.
SA Schools team to face Wales in Stellenbosch (Friday, 11 August):
15 – Kennedy Mpeku, Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions / KES
14 – Qamani Kota, Tshepa Trading Griffons / Welkom Gimnasium
13 – Diego Appollis, Blue Bulls / Garsfontein
12 – Rikus Pretorius (vice-captain), Free State / Grey College
11 – Muller du Plessis, DHL Western Province / Paarl Gymnasium
10 – Christopher Schreuder, Free State / Grey College
9 – Sanele Nohamba, Sharks / Durban High School
8 – Travis Gordon (capt), Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions / KES
7 – Phendulani Buthelezi, Sharks / Durban High School
6 – Vian Fourie, DHL Western Province / Paarl Boys High
5 – Cristen van Niekerk, Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions / Monument
4 – Juan van der Mescht, Sharks / Glenwood
3 – Keagan Glade, Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions / KES
2 – Ruhann Greyling, Free State / Grey College
1 – Nkosikhona Masuku, Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions/ Parktown Boys High
16 – Fezokuhle Mbatha, Sharks / Maritzburg College
17 – Jordan Clarke, Sharks / Glenwood
18 – Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions / St Stithians
19 – Celimpilo Gumede, Sharks / Durban High School
20 – Adrian Alberts, DHL Western Province / Paarl Boys High
21 – Mark Snyman, Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions/ Helpmekaar
22 – Dylan Richardson, Sharks / Kearsney
23 – Henco Martins, DHL Western Province/ Paarl Gymnasium
24 - Jaden Hendrikse, Sharks / Glenwood
25 - Yanga Hlalu, Xerox Bidvest Golden Lions / KES
26 - Conan Le Fleur, Sharks / Glenwood
27 - Morne Brandon, Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions / Monument
28 - Banele Mthenjane, Pumas / Nelspruit