SA Academy coach Bart Schoeman and captain Kobus Porter are full of confidence heading into Craven Week.
The Academy side are made up of players who represented their provinces at the recent Academy Week. Most of them were considered unlucky not to be selected for a Craven Week squad and will therefore have a point to prove in East London.
While many refer to SA Academy as a ‘B side’, their recent results against SA Schools tell a different story. The Academy boys have dominated their more illustrious opponents over the last six years with four wins, including a 41-19 drubbing in 2008. That seemed to be the final blow for Saru, which has now given SA Academy a chance to showcase their talents at this year’s Craven Week, rather than against SA Schools.
‘A lot of players are disappointed at not making Craven Week teams,’ Schoeman told keo.co.za, ‘but at least now they are being given an opportunity to take part and show their potential.’
‘We are all excited to be part of Craven Week,’ said Porter. ‘I think this is better than playing one game against SA Schools, because we can prove that we are good enough to play at this level. The Academy Week was very competitive, so I’m sure our players will impress.’
Schoeman agreed with his captain.
‘South Africa is blessed with a wealth of young rugby talent,’ he said. ‘There are lots of players good enough to make the Craven Week teams but unfortunately there isn’t enough space for all of them. Saru’s decision has helped to give these unlucky players an opportunity to play at the highest level which will help them in the future.’
SA Academy are in East London for a training camp as they prepare to face Zimbabwe in their opening game on Tuesday.
SA Academy – 15 Shandré Claasen (Vredendal, Boland), 14 Ushimen Pateni (Pearson, Eastern Province), 13 William Small-Smith (Grey College, Free State), 12 Paul Jordaan (Grey College, Free State), 11 Ayanda Foley (Victoria Park, Eastern Province), 10 Errol Jagger (Paul Roos, Western Province), 9 François de Klerk (Waterkloof, Blue Bulls), 8 Quinton Kruger (Waterkloof, Blue Bulls), 7 Cornell du Preez (Framesby, Eastern Province), 6 Kobus Porter (Noordheuwel, Golden Lions – captain), 5 Schalk van Heerden (Waterkloof, Blue Bulls), 4 James Meechum (Monument, Golden Lions, 3 Piet Stemmet (Paul Roos, Western Province), 2 Wikus Louwrens (Oakdale, South Western Districts), 1 Kelvin du Bruyn (Paul Roos, Western Province).
Subs: 16 Katlego Kgama (St Stithians, Golden Lions), 17 Zolani Faku (Grey High, Eastern Province), 18 Lidokuhle Neyembe (Grey College, Free State), 19 Khaya Majola (Westville, KwaZulu Natal), 20 Thabiso Zwane (Piet Retief, Pumas), 21 Heinrich Arendse (Scottsdene, Western Province), 22 Kieran Goss (Wynberg, Western Province).
By Gareth Duncan