The Junior Springboks arrived in Rosario in high spirits on Thursday afternoon (SA Time) for the World Rugby U20 Championship and according to Bafana Nhleko (assistant coach), one could sense the excitement among the players to get down to business at the international showpiece.
The SA U20s travelled to their base in Rosario via Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, and arrived at the hotel on Thursday morning local time. The players will have most of the day off to recover, although they will have a late afternoon activation session to get into the swing of things before their full training programme resumes on Friday.
“The mood in the camp is good and the players are excited to be here,” said Nhleko.
“We have always seen this as a bit of an adventure, especially the trip itself. But we planned things in such a way that everyone should be fresh and keen to get going.
“The reality of the situation is this is the actual journey. We spoke a lot about the training camps and the travel, but the real journey is to play in the tournament, and one can see in the players’ attitude that they are hungry and they want to play. Ultimately that is why they play this game, to get on the field and express themselves.”
Nhleko was positive about the time the team had to adapt to the time zone before their opening match against Scotland on Tuesday, 4 June, and the quick turnaround time in between matches in the tournament.
“The trip to the UK was useful, and the two-week training camp we had back home was also very important,” said Nhleko.
“We have always said, once you are at the World Rugby U20 Championship there isn’t much time to get into training; it is more a case of making sure that our bases are covered and that everyone is fresh and ready for the next game.”
With the Scotland match around the corner, Nhleko was pleased with their preparations so far and said: “So far so good. Chean (Roux) has been very good in how he has managed the team and the coaching staff in ensuring that our focus is on the first game. Once we get through that we can worry about everything else that follows.”
The match against Scotland will be followed by encounters against Georgia and New Zealand in the pool stages on Saturday, 8 June, and Wednesday, 12 June, respectively. The top four teams at the conclusion of the pool stages will battle it out in the Semi-finals on Monday, 17 June, while the final will be played on Saturday, 22 June.