The Junior Springboks have kicked off their Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series taking place in Italy from this month to early July.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, returning Junior Bok and Sharks Under-20 player, Siya Ningiza, said that getting positive results from the tournament is the only thing the team has their minds set on.
“The mentality and feelings are mutual in the camp. We are all excited and everybody just wants to go to Italy and win four out of four.” Said Ningiza, speaking to Grit Sports.
Ningiza, who was sidelined due to a hamstring injury for most parts of this year said the time away from the game was difficult as he even feared not making the Junior Boks squad.
“After I got injured it was tough for me, physically and psychologically. I was out for 2 weeks and re-injured my hamstring, which saw me side-lined for 8 weeks. It was hard because I missed out on opportunities of playing in the Currie Cup, and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to represent my country.”
“That just messed up my mind because I wasn’t playing any rugby, but with the support of my parents and my mentor, I stuck through the process and worked through everything”, Said Ningiza.
The loose forward is one of the few players that have been selected for the second time in the Junior Springbok team and admits that he has had to play a leadership role now more than ever.
“Obviously, our names were just penciled down from last year. Nothing was confirmed or guaranteed but I was happy to be selected again. I was given a role by the coaches, they told me to be a leader, encourage the guys, push the standards in training, and set an example. I think I did that well, and everyone in the camp just gets along.”
Ningiza was also quick to admit that even though the Baby Boks had set out to achieve maximum results in Italy, it’s never going to be easy as they are drawn into what he describes as “the group of death.”
“Our group is like the group of death hey? We have England, who have won the grand slam before, France and Ireland. Those are all top-tier teams and it’s going to be a challenge no doubt.”
“However, we believe in our structures, and we’ve prepared well. If we can play to our strengths, be physical, and bring the intensity we have a good chance.” He said.
The former Maritzburg College pupil also revealed what he would like to take away from this tournament as he continues to build on his illustrious career.
“I represented my country last year, which was amazing but I feel like I didn’t have the impact I wanted to have. I just want this campaign to be a stepping stone for my career. Obviously, I have goals of representing my union in the Currie Cup and the URC, and one day playing for the Springboks. I know that big performance could go a long way in my career.” He concluded.
The Junior Springboks started off their campaign with a 30-22 win against England last Friday. Their next challenge will be to beat Ireland on Wednesday the 29th before facing France on the 5th of July. A week later they will play a cross-pool fixture which will be determined by the final standings.