SARugbymag.co.za looks at five of the 2019 Junior Springboks who could be set for a breakthrough in the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

JJ van der Mescht

Van der Mescht has already made his senior debut for the Sharks, playing in a couple of Super Rugby and Currie Cup games. However, with Gideon Koegelenberg and Stephan Lewies sealing permanent moves overseas, a position in the Sharks’ second-row department has opened up. At 2m and 120kg, Van der Mescht can add plenty of muscle that perhaps has been lacking when it comes to Sharks locks over the last couple of years. He certainly showed that he has the work rate, grunt as well as a developing situational awareness and pace at the U20 World Championships in 2019.

Phendulani Buthelezi

The 2019 Junior Boks captain showed real potential as a future leader during the U20 World Championships. Buthelezi has already been signalled as a future star for the Sharks as he made his Super Rugby debut before leading the Junior Springboks. However, he may have to bide his time and be patient in 2020. While Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez have departed for Manchester, the Sharks have more than filled that gap by signing James Venter, Henco Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe. The competition for loose-forward places means the 20-year-old will have to grasp his chance with both hands when it comes.

Rikus Pretorius

One of the Junior Boks’ vice-captains, Pretorius was already being talked up by coach John Dobson when he made his Currie Cup debut this year. Pretorius will face a baptism of fire in 2020 as he, along with fellow youngster Matt Moore, will be expected to fill the boots of Damian de Allende, who will be plying his trade in Japan before a potential move to Munster. The good news is that Pretorius has more than the ability to do so, as his 100kg frame allows him to carry strongly, while he also possesses an underrated offload and pass.

Francke Horn

Probably the surprise name on this list, Horn might have made a very smart move by joining the Lions from Western Province this year. With Kwagga Smith playing in Japan, Warren Whiteley still battling a career-threatening knee injury and Hacjivah Dayimani dividing his focus with sevens, Horn might find himself thrust into the action at some stage next season. The Junior Springboks vice-captain looked very bright in 2019, but unfortunately his tournament was ended prematurely by a shoulder injury. This will not be the first time he has had to overcome an obstacle, as he was diagnosed with a heart condition in his matric year and had to step away from sport for a year and a half.

Sanele Nohamba

Nohamba has already experienced something of a mini breakthrough in 2019, going from an impact player for the Junior Springboks to starting for the Sharks in the Currie Cup. The scrumhalf has already shown composure beyond his years and his U20 World Championships points tally of 33 underscores his ability. Given his tireless need to work on his weaknesses, Nohamba may find himself leapfrogging on to the Sharks bench during Super Rugby and soon be challenging Louis Schreuder for a starting place. Could he be the 2020 version of Herschel Jantjies?

Photo: Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images

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