South Africa’s best young players now have Georgia firmly on their minds as preparations intensified in Stellenbosch this week for the Junior World Championships in the Eurasian country in June.
Head coach Chean Roux and the coaching team, put the players through their paces with a succession of skills and conditioning drills over the last five days in Stellenbosch with the camp concluding on Friday, 17 March.
“There has been a notable difference in the quality of the training drills since the first day of camp, and the players have really responded well to the intense work load,” said Roux. “We are certainly on the right track.
“Competition for places is intense and I’m happy to see how the players are adapting to the structures and team culture. We are steadily developing into a settled squad.”
The final 28-man squad will be named in mid-April with a number of players on Springbok Sevens, Vodacom Super Rugby or FNB Varsity Cup duty also in contention.
Louis Koen, in his role as SA Rugby’s acting on-field High Performance Manager (overseeing all on-field programmes from U16 to U20 and Women’s Rugby) will continue to assist Roux and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick for the duration of the campaign.
Pieter de Villiers, who was the Springboks’ scrum consultant between 2012 and 2015 and is currently assisting the DHL Stormers in Vodacom Super Rugby, is assisting the team with scrumming skills on a temporary basis.
“We are committed to ensuring that the players develop correct techniques early on, which is something Mzwandile, Louis, Pieter and I have placed a lot of emphasis on,” said Roux.
“Mzwandile’s focus is on backline play; Louis’s role will involve general attack and kicking and Pieter focuses mainly on the scrummaging.”
The squad will be in camp until Friday, 17 March, and will have eight days off before their tour to the central unions from 26 March to 9 April.
They will have another training camp from 18 April to 12 May, and will get together for the World Championship holding camp on 21 May, with the team set to depart for Georgia on 25 May.
The SA Under-20s will face France, hosts Georgia and Argentina in the pool stages of the tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 31 May, 4 June and 8 June respectively.