The SA U20 team have been drawn in a pool with France, Italy and Fiji for next year’s Junior World Championships in Japan.
The Baby Boks finished third this year after losing to England in the semi-final and are the top-ranked side in their pool. All their group matches will be played in Osaka, with the tournament running from 5-21 June, while they will need to remain unbeaten in the league stages if they wish to advance to the play-offs.
The Baby Bok squad will only be selected closer to the time, but it should feature some big names who were members of the team this year such as Nick Koster, Robert Ebersohn and Wilton Pietersen.
“Most of the backline will be around again and about eight in total,” Eric Sauls told keo.co.za, “while there are also a number of guys who just missed out on selection who will be in the reckoning. This should provide us with the basis of the team.
“Next year the 30-man squad needs to meet earlier. It would be good if we could play as a team in a competitive tournament such as the Vodacom Cup to build combinations and confidence. But guys do have contracts to their provincial unions so it could cause problems but the decision is up to Saru,” said Sauls.
The tournament was played in quagmire-like conditions in Wales this year and Sauls believes the move to Japan could suit the Baby Boks.
“Japanese conditions may be a bit more to our advantage, and it may cause the United Kingdom sides some problems. It is meant to be similar to Durban – hot and humid,” he said.
The full Championship schedule will be announced shortly.
IRB Junior World Championship 2009 Pools –
Pool A: New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland, Uruguay
Pool B: England, Samoa, Scotland, Japan
Pool C: South Africa, France, Italy, Fiji
Pool D: Wales, Australia, Canada, Tonga