Junior Springbok vice-captain and centre, Rikus Pretorius, singled out a strong start and the need to capitalise on their point-scoring chances as vital elements to book a place in the World Rugby U20 Championship final as the team started their preparations on Friday for the semi-final.
The SAU20’s will meet France in the crunch match at the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario on Monday at 20h30 (SA Time), with hosts, Argentina, meeting Australia in the other semi-final.
The last time the Junior Springboks played in the World Rugby U20 Championship final was in 2014 against England, with the English winning 21-20.
“The team is very excited,” said Pretorius. “There is a big emphasis on good recovery to ensure that we are ready for match-day, especially after having played three matches already, and everyone is really looking forward to the game.”
Pretorius, who was one of a handful of players in the squad that featured in the semi-final against England in the 2018 edition of the competition in the south of France, said the players had switched their focus completely to the match against France.
“We may have progressed to the semi-final, but we still have to win two more games if we want to lift the trophy, so we are very focused on the task at hand.
“Last year we suffered a one-point defeat against England in the semi-final, and if had we used one or two more opportunities in the game we would have made it through, so every point is going to be vital in this match.
“Every kick is going to be important and we have to use our chances on attack. We also have to make sure that we get off to a good start, and we need to produce 80 minutes of good quality rugby.”
Pretorius added: “This is semi-finals rugby, so it is important that we are in the right frame of mind, recover as well as possible physically, and work on our detail in the next few days to get everything in place for the match.
“As a team we are ready mentally, we all have the same objective, and we are playing well together, so hopefully we can play to our potential and deliver a high-quality performance,” he said.