Late addition Kobus van Wyk is likely to start at outside centre when the Baby Boks take on New Zealand in the Junior World Championship final on Friday.
The Baby Boks suffered huge blows over the past week as outside centres William Small-Smith and Patrick Howard suffered tournament-ending injuries. Sharks speedster Paul Jordaan, who’s been utilised at wing during the campaign, is a capable back-up, but head coach Dawie Theron indicated that he’s unlikely to recover from a hamstring injury that he picked up during the semi-final win over Argentina last Sunday.
This means WP’s Van Wyk, who replaced Howard in the squad, is likely to be rushed into the starting line-up.
‘Paul hasn’t been training with us all week so far. We will make a final decision on him at a later stage,’ Theron told keo.co.za. ‘But otherwise, our preparations for the final have been going well.
‘The late injury replacements who have come in have experienced no problems while settling in. They were part of the provisional squad, so they know the team’s structures. Ironically, they only missed out on final selection because they were injured at the time.
‘I can’t say who’s playing or not, that will be confirmed when the team is announced. But he [Kobus van Wyk] is ready to go if needed.’
The good news is that captain Wiaan Liebenberg is fit to play. The Blue Bulls man has been struggling with a wrist injury, but has recovered in time to face the Kiwis in the Baby Boks’ first Junior World Championship final.
It will be interesting how Theron’s plans to accommodate his skipper, considering the great form shown by Pieter Steph du Toit in the No 7 jersey. Du Toit is a specialised lock, but he’s been a strong ball carrier and a key part on defence at blindside flank.
Meanwhile, Saru tournament manager Steven Roos confirmed that 20 000 tickets have already been sold for Friday’s showdown at Newlands. There will be a triple-header at the stadium, which will see France take on Ireland, Argentina face Wales in the third-fourth place play-off and the Baby Boks-Baby Blacks title decider. The first kick-off is at 2:45pm.
There will also be three other matches played at UWC Sports Ground in Bellville on Friday (Scotland versus Samoa, Italy versus Fiji and England versus Australia), with the opening game starting at 12pm.
By Gareth Duncan, in Cape Town