SA U20 head coach Dawie Theron has made 11 changes to his starting line-up for the team’s must-win Junior World Championship clash against Italy on Friday.
Theron has rested many first-choice players ahead of the Baby Boks’ crunch game against England on Thursday, but he still has a strong team to depend on when they face the Italians at the UWC Sports Ground in Bellville. This will, however, deny his preferred XV the time to settle after a poor performance against Ireland last Monday.
Inside centre Jan Serfontein, lock Paul Willemse, loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff and captain Wiaan Liebenberg are the only survivours from the run-on side that faced the Irish in the 23-19 defeat in Stellenbosch.
Tighthead prop Olivier Kebble should boost the Baby Bok front row, after making a big impact in the scrums when he came off the bench in the second half. Lock Ruan Botha joins Lions team-mate Paul Willemse in the second row, with the highly-rated Peter Steph du Toit dropping to the bench.
In the backline, Paarl Gym flyhalf Handre Pollard will make his debut appearance at U20 level. Springbok Sevens speedster William Small-Smith also comes into the midfield.
‘This was always part of our planning, as we only have a three day turnaround between the two matches,’ said Theron. ‘We are keen to redeem ourselves against Italy as we disappointed ourselves and our supporters against the Irish and I am convinced that the new players in the team will provide us with a lot of positive energy.’
Baby Boks – 15 Marais Schmidt, 14 Tshotsho Mbovane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Handrè Pollard, 9 Vian van der Watt, 8 Braam Steyn, 7 Wiaan Liebenberg (c), 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Oliver Kebble, 2 Jason Thomas, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Mark Pretorius, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Pieter Steph du Toit, 19 Fabian Booysen, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Pat Howard, 23 Maks van Dyk.