The Junior Springboks owe it to themselves and the country to finish the World Rugby U20 Championship on a winning note when they line up against Argentina in the bronze playoff in Rosario on Saturday.
That is the view of Junior Springbok captain, Phendulani Buthelezi, who said the last two days were tough for the team, but they were well aware of the significance of the task ahead.
“Losing the game against France was not what we had planned, and it has been a tough time for us as a squad since, especially since we worked very hard to get the final stages of the competition,” said Buthelezi. “But as hard as the last two days have been for us, we realise we still have a big task at hand playing in the third and fourth place-playoff against Argentina on Saturday.”
The skipper said it was important for the team and the country to finish the showpiece on a high note.
“We had a look at the game against France, and the biggest thing that let us down was that we did not execute the game plan,” said Buthelezi. “We wanted to get the ball in our flyhalf’s hands more and make them turn around as the conditions were very wet. But we placed a lot of pressure on ourselves through our errors, while France capitalised on our mistakes and got points from it.
“So we know exactly where we went wrong, and we will make sure prepare well for the next match and try to at least finish in third place.
“We have put in a huge amount of hard work over the last six months, and we owe it to ourselves and our country to go out there and give it our all.”
With Argentina being the tournament hosts, the talented looseforward expected a massive onslaught in their final game and said: “It is going to be tough match, especially with Argentina playing in front of passionate home crowd. They are going to push very hard for the third-place finish, just as we are, so we will do our best to put the semi-final behind us and make sure we are prepared physically and mentally for the game because we really want to go out there and make our country proud.”
The clash between the Junior Springboks and Argentina starts at 18h00 (SA Time) on Saturday at the Racecourse Stadium, and will be followed by the final between Australia and France at 20h30 (SA Time).