With their blitz tour to the UK done and dusted, the Junior Springboks will enter the next phase of their preparation for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship on Friday, with consistency in their performances and the fine-tuning of their game plan among the main focus areas in the next two weeks.
The SA U20s returned to South Africa on Thursday and according to Junior Springbok assistant coach Bafana Nhleko, the players will keep their feet firmly on the accelerator after their matches against England and Wales. They will resume their on-field preparations on Friday.
With the learnings of their five international friendlies now in the memory bank, Nhleko said the team would continue putting the building blocks in place for the international showpiece, which will be hosted in Argentina from 4 to 22 June.
“The good thing about where we are now is that we have faced quality opposition in five different matches against in Wales, England, Argentina and Georgia – who are also all preparing for the World Rugby U20 Championship – as well as a senior Namibian side,” said Nhleko.
“These encounters gave us a taste of the different styles of rugby we could face, while it also exposed certain things that we are good at and other things that we are not good at.
“It is now about consistency in our performance and building on what we know we can do right, while at the same time fixing other things.”
Looking back at their UK tour, Nhleko said: “For us the tour was about testing the players under pressure and placing them in uncomfortable situations to prepare them for what lies ahead at the World Rugby U20 Championship.
“We lost the first match, which was not ideal, but we knew we were going to be under a bit of pressure with limited preparation time. England ran away with it late in the match, and although we were in it for about 70 minutes, our plans were always for the players to have full-on training sessions and no time to take things easy before the match.
“In light of this, the Welsh game was good for us, given the travel fatigue and demanding training schedule. The players showed immense character to come back and win the game. Our set pieces have also been improving in each match, and we would like to build on that going forward.”
With a little over four weeks to go before the Junior Springboks kick off their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign in Rosario, Nhleko said they would continue to put in the hard yards at their base in Stellenbosch in the next few weeks.
“We have a two-week camp ahead where the focus will mainly be on conditioning, and along with that we will look back at the five games we have played,” Nhleko said.
“We also want to incorporate the players who were not on tour with us who are also in contention for places in the squad travelling to Rosario.”
The Junior Springboks will face Scotland (4 June), Georgia (8 June) and New Zealand (12 June) in the pool stages of the international showpiece. The final squad will be named on Tuesday, 7 May and they will depart for Rosario on Wednesday, 29 May.