Baby Boks in 'top shape'
Francois Venter (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - South Africa U20 centre Francois Venter on Thursday said that the Baby Boks are in top shape and insisted that this year's team is confident of improving their record at the IRB Junior World Championships.
The Baby Boks achieved bronze medal during last year's tournament in Argentina, and have ended in third position during the previous two Under-20 tournaments.
Venter was a member of the South African team that competed in the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship and believes that his previous experience and that of three other players - Wandile Mjekevu, Lohan Jacobs and Siya Kolisi - could add further value to the team as they attempt to claim their maiden title.
"It was an experience and a great opportunity for me to be part of the team that competed in Argentina last year, and I am honoured to once again be part of the set up this year," said Venter.
"We were desperately disappointed after going down to New Zealand in the semi-finals, but compliments to the guys for showing great character to defeat England in the match for the bronze medal. Ironically that was also our hat-trick of third place finishes at these IRB Junior World Championships.
"With the advantage of being involved last year, I've been placed with the responsibility of being one of the senior players in this squad. One of our first goals for the season was to break that trend of bronze medal wins, and aim higher.
"Obviously like every team, our intentions are to win the trophy. But to win the World Champs we'll have to put ourselves in a perfect position to stake that claim. To win this tournament, we are going to have to buy in to a complete effort from 22 players for five matches played every four days.
"We've enjoyed a relatively good build up to the tournament with in Argentina during our two-match tour of South America. We also have more players that have been exposed to international rugby in our squad this season, and then we have more players that have been playing top flight domestic rugby in South Africa."
The Springbok Sevens trio of Paul Jordaan, Tshotsho Mbovane and Craig Barry are three players expected to express their talent and skill in the 15-man format of the game in Italy later this month.
SA U20 winger Wandile Mjekevu who represented the MTN Lions during last season's Vodacom Super 14, is another player who, like Venter will compete in his second season for the Baby Boks.
The other two players who competed in last year's IRB Junior World Championship, that will once again done the green and gold for the Under-20 team is Vodacom Blue Bulls scrumhalf Lohan Jacobs and Western Province flanker Siya Kolisa.
The SA U20s depart to Italy on Saturday in preparation of their first Pool C fixture against Scotland on 10 June 2011 in Padova at 20h10.
The 26-man squad will officially be capped at a ceremony held in Cape Town on Friday night. SA Under-20 Match Schedule:
10 June 2011 SA v Scotland - Stadio del Plebiscito, Padova at 20h10
14 June 2011 SA v Ireland - Stadio Communale di Monigo, Treviso at 20h10
18 June 2011 England - Stadio del Plebiscito, Padova at 20h10
22 June 2011 Playoffs
26 June 2011 Finals