Zachary Porthen captain as Junior Springboks aim to ‘create own story’ at World Cup

Captain Zachary Porthen will anchor the Junior Springbok scrum at tighthead prop during the Junior World Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

Captain Zachary Porthen will anchor the Junior Springbok scrum at tighthead prop during the Junior World Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 15, 2024


Five players who were part of the Junior Springboks who won bronze at last year’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship will feature for the team at this year’s edition again.

After some tough selection calls, head coach Bafana Nhleko yesterday named his charges to aim for gold in 2024 when the tournament starts in Cape Town and Stellenbosch later this month.

Prop and captain Zachary Porthen, wing Litelihle Bester, centre Jurenzo Julius, scrumhalf Asad Moos and lock JF van Heerden are the experienced players the South Africans will bank on.

The tournament kicks off on June 29 at Cape Town Stadium, where the Junior Boks will face Fiji, while they also play Argentina (Danie Craven Stadium, July 4) and England at Athlone Stadium (July 9) respectively.

“We had to make some tough decisions to choose what we as coaches believe would be the best selection for the competition,” Nhleko said in a statement on the squad.

“I commend all the guys who have been part of the journey thus far and the sacrifices made, but from here on, the focus will be towards building cohesion within the squad.

“We are excited for the challenge that lies ahead. The players are keen to create their own story, and we can only take confidence from the work that the group has put in.”

The Junior Springboks recently finished second in the inaugural Under-20 Rugby Championship hosted in Brisbane, Australia.

According to Nhleko, they will take key lessons from that experience and the competitive matches into the international event.

“That tournament allowed us to play in three very tough, competitive matches, presented us with key learnings and areas to work on, but we also grew as a group.

“We are keen to keep driving good behaviours and build on the positive aspects of our performances.”

Junior Springbok Squad

Props: Casper Badenhorst (Bulls), Liyema Ntshanga, (Cheetahs), Reno Hirst (Golden Lions), Zachary Porthen (captain, Western Province), Ruan Swart (Bulls).

Hookers: Ethan Bester (Sharks), Luca Bakkes (WP), Juan Smal (Bulls).

Locks: Adam de Waal (WP), JF van Heerden (Bulls), Thomas Dyer (Sharks).

Loose forwards: Batho Hlekani (Sharks), Divan Fuller (WP), Keanu Coetsee (Bulls), Sibabalwe Mahashe (Lions), Thabang Mphafi (Lions), Tiaan Jacobs (Biarritz).

Scrumhalves: Asad Moos (WP), Ezekiel Ngobeni (WP).

Flyhalves: Liam Koen (Bulls), Tylor Sefoor (Cheetahs).

Centres: Bruce Sherwood (WP), Joshua Boulle (WP), Jurenzo Julius (Sharks), Philip-Albert van Niekerk (Bulls).

Outside backs: JC Mars (WP), Joel Leotlela (WP and SA Sevens), Litelihle Bester (Sharks), Likhona Finca (Lions), Michail Damon (Bulls).

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