Strong SA squad for Junior World Championship

The tournament takes place in New Zealand from 2-22 June.

FILE: The Junior Springboks celebrate their 2012 IRB Junior World Championship victory. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Junior Springboks on Tuesday named five players with Super Rugby experience in the squad for the 2014 International Rugby Union (IRB) Junior World Championship.

The tournament takes place in New Zealand in June.

Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard, Sharks centre Andre Esterhuizen, Kings duo Sergeal Petersen, Lions hooker Malcolm Marx, and Kings duo Sergeal Petersen and Aidon Davis all made the cut.

All five players have either played Super Rugby or have been part of a Super Rugby training squad.

Pollard kicked the Junior Boks to the 2012 Junior World Championship title and returns to the squad having gained considerable experience with the Bulls.

Petersen had an impressive Super Rugby debut campaign, scoring several tries and courting serious interest from the established South African franchises.

More than 50 eligible players attended an intensive three-week long training camp in Stellenbosch, playing several trial matches and training games.

The squad was then whittled down to the chosen 28 by a panel consisting of Under-20 coach Dawie Theron and national selectors Peter Jooste and Ian McIntosh.

Theron says experience in this tournament is going to be crucial.

"Experience is very valuable and I think there are a lot of guys in the squad that have been through the mill. A lot of the guys came through the school system as well, so they know each other well, which is a big positive. There are also guys with Super Rugby experience."

Theron believes Pollard is probably the most experienced player in the squad.

"Handre Pollard is going to play for this team for the third year. I believe his motivation will still be very high and his experience will be invaluable."

Despite the obvious quality in the side, Theron says it's difficult to say if this is his best assembled team.

"I will never put a label on a team before they've had the opportunity to prove themselves on the field."

The Bulls are once again the most represented franchise in the squad, contributing 13 players.

The second most represented franchise is the Sharks, with five players named.

Forwards Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez, whose older brother Robert played for the Junior Boks last year, are one of two sets of twins in the squad, together with Bulls backs Jesse and Dan Kriel.

Sharks flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis is the son of former Springbok player and coach Carel du Plessis.

The squad will now return to Stellenbosch to continue preparations for the tournament.

The squad will depart Cape Town on 26 May.

The tournament starts on 2 June.

Junior Springbok squad for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship:

Forwards: Cyle Brink, Aidon Davis, Jean-Luc du Preez, Daniel du Preez, Thomas du Toit, Joseph Dweba, Corniel Els, Wilco Louw, Thabo Mabuza, Malcolm Marx, Ngobisizwe Mxoli, Abongile Nonkontwana, JD Schickerling, Pierre Schoeman, Victor Sekekete, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg.

Backs: Jean-Luc du Plessis, Andre Esterhuizen, Warrick Gelant, Lloyd Greef, Daniel Kriel, Jesse Kriel, Duncan Matthews, Mthokozisi Mkhabela, Sergeal Petersen, Handre Pollard, Justin Smith.

Junior Springbok fixtures for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship:

2 June: SA vs Scotland (North Harbour)

6 June: SA vs New Zealand (North Harbour)

10 June: SA vs Samoa (Pukekohe)