Nhleko: Junior Boks excited to be on the road

Bafana Nhleko (Gallo)
Bafana Nhleko (Gallo)

Cape Town - Junior Springbok assistant coach Bafana Nhleko said the team was excited to be on the road after they touched down in Birmingham on Wednesday for the first leg of their two-match tour to the UK where they will face England and Wales.

The players shook off the effects of the travelling shortly after arriving at their base with a gym and field session.

They will meet England on Friday at Coventry Rugby’s Butts Park Arena, and Wales on Tuesday, Apri 30l, at the Vale Resort outside Cardiff.

“The boys are excited to be on the road and to test themselves in different conditions,” said Nhleko. “The journey to Birmingham served as good mental preparation for the team ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship, as it exposed them to the demands of travelling and the logistics involved, which is something they will have to deal with at the end of May when we depart for Rosario.

“With two days to get the players ready mentally and physically for the match against England, it was important for them to shake off the effects of the long journey soon after our arrival.”

Looking ahead at Friday’s clash, Nhleko emphasised that the focus in the camp would be on their game, although he expected a strong challenge from England.

“We have to make sure we focus on ourselves and improve our performance in every match we play because there is a lot we have to get right as a team,” said Nhleko. “But that said England are a proud nation and this encounter will be equally important in their preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship.”

Nhleko singled out a few areas that they had to improve on from the U20 International Series in the Western Cape earlier this month, and said: “In our last few games our breakdowns were not at the standard we would have liked it to be and that hampered the tempo and flow our attack. We have seen glimpses of how good our attack is if we get it right, so we need to sharpen up in that area and use our try-scoring opportunities.

“The England forwards will certainly test us in the set pieces, which is important with an eye on June as we will face that in every game in Argentina, and while our defence was fairly good in the U20 International Series, there is still a lot to refine in that regard.

“Each game is another step forward toward growing our performance and allowing the combinations getting used to each other, so every game is vital for us.”

The Junior Springboks will return to South Africa on Thursday, May 2, where they will continue their preparations for the international spectacle at their base in Stellenbosch. They will depart for the World Rugby U20 Championship on Wednesday, May 29.

The team will kick off their campaign against Scotland on Tuesday, June 4, before facing Georgia (Saturday, June 8) and New Zealand (Wednesday, June 12) in the pool stages. The semi-finals will be contested on Monday, June 12, and the final on Saturday,  June 22.

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