Cape Town - Louis Koen said on Friday that the Junior Springbok team
were determined to finish the World Rugby U20 Championship on a winning note
when they meet New Zealand in the bronze playoff in Béziers on Sunday.
The SAU20’s returned to the training field on Friday morning
following their heart-breaking one-point defeat against England in the
semi-final, and the SA Rugby High Performance manager and Junior Springbok
assistant coach said the players were in the right frame of mind for the
“The guys had two days of recovery and a little time away
from rugby, so we got back to training this morning,” said Koen.
“We had to
overcome the disappointment of going down in the semi-final, although it is
still going to hurt for a long time. But it was important to get our minds
right for the next game.
“There is an excitement in the camp that we are playing
against New Zealand, and this is a fantastic opportunity because not many
players in South Africa have experienced this. So the players are keen to get
out there again and finish the tournament on a high.”
Koen expected a challenging encounter against New Zealand
and said the Junior Springboks had to deliver a solid performance against the
“New Zealand play a fast game and they use their scrums and
lineouts as a platform to attack,” said Koen.
“They like to bring their big
backs into the game as quickly as possible, while they also have a lot of skill
in their backline and beautiful attacking plays.
“They play a kicking game from inside their half, and apply
a lot of pressure by keeping the ball in the opposition’s half, so we need to
be ready to cover their kicking game and we have to be organised on defence.”
Looking at their own game, Koen was confident that the
SAU20’s had what it takes to win the bronze medal, but he said it was important
to deliver an 80-minute performance.
“We have had our good moments, but obviously we are not
starting games well, which we need to rectify,” said Koen.
“When we wake up, we
really play some good rugby.
“Against England we played in wet conditions so it was
difficult to get the ball wide, but hopefully it will be dry on Sunday, so we
can bring our exciting backs into play. If we can put a full 80-minute
performance together, this team could play their potential.”
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux will announce his team for
the clash on Saturday.