Koen: Junior Springboks have solid foundation to build on

Louis Koen (Gallo Images)
Louis Koen (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - SA Rugby High Performance manager and Junior Springbok assistant coach, Louis Koen, said on Thursday the team had a solid base to build on in the World Rugby U20 Championship in Rosario as they turned their attention to Saturday’s match against Georgia at the Racecourse Stadium.

The Junior Springboks got their campaign off to a strong start on Tuesday with a convincing 43-19 victory against the Scots, and Koen said they took several positives from the performance. 

“There were a lot of positives, and the most important one for us is that we created numerous try-scoring opportunities,” said Koen.

“We are also proud of our scrums, our conditioning and our finishing in the second half. The boys played 80 minutes of high-tempo rugby and that is what we wanted to achieve in that game, so I think we laid a solid foundation to build on going forward.

“That said, it was a bit frustrating not to finish some of the chances we created, especially in the first half, while they also wet the synthetic field 10 minutes before the match, which made the handling a little tougher in the first half. But that was the situation for both sides. So we need to adapt better to that against Georgia.”

Koen expected a physical encounter against the Georgians, but he said the team’s focus would be solely on implementing their game plan effectively.

“We played warm-up matches against Georgia in the last two years, so we know what their strengths are,” said Koen.

“We have huge respect for them, especially their set-pieces and physicality, but we are focusing on our processes and what we would like to achieve in the game.”

The coach said the players were in high spirits off the field, and that they were thrilled to participate in the international spectacle.

“The boys are very positive and excited, and they are enjoying one another’s company,” said Koen.

“Rosario is a small city and we’ve not had much time to explore, but the players are spending a lot of time together, which is good.

“We are looking forward to doing a few fun things together as a team as the competition progresses, but our approach to the tournament is very focused, and we know what we would like to achieve.

“It is a privilege to work with these young men and I am looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish.”

The Junior Springboks will face New Zealand in their third and final pool match on Wednesday, June 12 , while the semi-finals and the final will play out on Monday, June 17, and Saturday, June 22 respectively.

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