Sixteen rising South African rugby talents have been named to join the Springbok Green and Gold squads for a training week in preparation for Saturday’s Castle Lager Springbok Showdown at Newlands in Cape Town.
The young players – drawn largely form the ranks of the Junior Springboks – will spend this week in camp with the two national selections before returning to their provinces to begin the inter-provincial Under-21 championships.
“This is a great opportunity for these youngsters to get a taste of the Springbok environment and, equally, it is an opportunity for the national coaches to get an insight into some of the top emerging talent in the country,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.
“There may even be an opportunity for one or two of them to get some match action if there is an injury or COVID-related issue during the week, but the main objective is to continue the process of national alignment.”
Erasmus, in partnership with Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and assistant coaches Mzwandile Stick and Deon Davids, picked two national teams – Green and Gold – for a once-off “Test” to resume the South African season on Saturday.
The teams feature the 50 best players in the country, including 13 Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks, who will prepare in separate bio-bubble environments in Cape Town with the support of the Young Guns.
“These youngsters have had their year completely disrupted by the pandemic,” said Erasmus.
“But we have not stopped tracking them or planning for their future and they will find out that we have a road map already prepared for their further development.”
The Green and Gold squads, as well as the Young Guns, are already in Cape Town, preparing for this weekend’s match.
Some of the more recognizable names among the youngsters include those of Sharks lock JJ van der Meschet, Sharks flank Pepsi Buthelezi and former schoolboy flyhalf star Kade Wolhuter, from Western Province.
Young Guns players group:
Green: Props – Nathan McBeth (Emirates Lions), Kudzwai Dube (Emirates Lions). Hooker – Morne Brandon (Emirates Lions). Lock JJ van der Mescht (Cell C Sharks). Back row: Evan Roos (Cell C Sharks), Pepsi Buthelezi (Cell C Sharks). Scrumhalf: Bernard van der Linde (Vodacom Blue Bulls). Centre: Mnombo Zwelindaba (DHL Western Province).
Gold: Props – Kwenso Blose (DHL Western Province), Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Emirates Lions). Hooker: Fez Mbatha (Cell C Sharks). Lock: Emile van Heerden (Cell C Sharks). Back row: Celimpilo Gumede (Cell C Sharks), Muller Uys (Vodacom Blue Bulls). Scrumhalf: Thomas Bursey (DHL Western Province). Flyhalf: Kade Wolhuter (DHL Western Province).