Porthen will lead the SA U18 team against England at Paarl Gimnasium (15h30), while Camden’s SA U18 ‘A’ side take on France at 13h30 at the same venue. Both matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

The two squads gathered in Stellenbosch on Sunday to start their preparations for the series, which includes three rounds of matches – all of them at Paarl Gimnasium – and for the coaches, Katleho Lynch (SA U18) and Cobus van Dyk (SA U18 ‘A’), Friday’s matches will provide a great foundation from which they can build for the rest of the series.

The second round will be on Tuesday 23 August and the action will conclude on Saturday 27 August, with the Junior Springbok coaching team of Bafana Nhleko and Chean Roux supporting the two teams.

“We already saw the massive potential these players have when we were together for a week in July after the U18 Craven Week, and to be able to work with them at international level is a great privilege,” said Lynch.

“The boys are eager to learn, they work incredibly hard and apart from days full of rugby activities, they still make time to keep up to date with their school work, which takes a lot of dedication.

“We realise we’re up against two countries who invest a lot of time and energy into their junior programmes and it will be a proper test for our players, but one we can’t wait to get stuck into.”

Van Dyk shared these sentiments: “We are blessed with some wonderful talent at U18 level and the excitement under the players, to now play with guys who they often face as opponents for their schools and provinces, is palpable.

“None of these guys have represented their country at international level, after the planned tour to Georgia last year was cancelled, but the players realise the enormous responsibility that comes with it and will give everything they have for the jersey in the coming weeks.”

With a few players unavailable to play on Friday, the selectors have indicated that they may call up replacements after the weekend’s matches to ensure full squads are available for the remaining encounters.

The teams are:

SA Under-18 to face England in Paarl:

15 JC Mars (Western Province)
14 Alfondso Isaacs (Cheetahs)
13 Litelihle Bester (Sharks)
12 Joshua Boulle (Lions)
11 Joel Leotlela (Lions)
10 Stehan Heymans (Bulls)
9 Caleb Abrahams (Cheetahs)
8 Sibabalwe Mahashe (Border)
7 Thabang Mpafi (Lions)
6 Lukas Meyer (Cheetahs)
5 JF van Heerden (Cheetahs)
4 Thomas Dyer (Sharks)
3 Zachary Porthen (captain, Western Province)
2 Ethan Bester (Sharks)
1 Casper Badenhorst (Cheetahs)

16 Luca Bakkes (Western Province)
17 Ruan Swart (SWD)
18 Reno Hirst (Western Province)
19 Jack Waterhouse (Sharks)
20 Matthew Fick (Western Province)
21 Steven Nel (Bulls)
22 Thurlon Williams (Western Province)
23 Bruce Sherwood (Western Province)
24 Sha-Jehaan de Jongh (Western Province)
25 Lilitha Matziliza (Bulls)

Referee: Dylen November

SA Under-18 ‘A’ to face France in Paarl:

15 Jeneil Losper (Western Province)
14 Gino Cupido (Western Province)
13 Antonio Bruiners (Western Province)
12 Philip-Albert van Niekerk (Western Province)
11 Jameel de Jongh (Western Province)
10 Liam Koen (Western Province)
9 Emrique Liedeman (Western Province)
8 Camden Schoeman (captain – SWD)
7 Divan Fuller (Western Province)
6 Zukisane Tom (Sharks)
5 Keanu Coetzee (Western Province)
4 Danio Botha (Western Province)
3 Nic Snyman (Sharks)
2 Juan Smal (Western Province)
1 Liyema Ntshanga (Sharks)

16 Christian Everitt (Sharks)
17 Willem Loubser (Western Province)
18 Bernard Bladergroen (Western Province)
19 Sandile Nzuza (Sharks)
20 Max du Pisani (Eastern Province)
21 Asad Moos (Western Province)
22 Sesethu Mpaka (Border)
23 Bradley Giddy (Cheetahs)

Referee: Ruhan Meiring