The Junior Springboks plan to deliver an energetic effort at Paarl Gymnasium on Thursday, where they will take on Italy in their second Pool C match of the 2023 World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
Junior Boks assistant coach, Lumumba Currie, was confident that the sell-out crowd will get good value for money and time spent, especially if they come in support of the South African Under-20 team.
“We are expecting a cracker of a game. We are coming with energy and effort and Italy are a team who play with lots of passion and skill. So, we are expecting a fierce battle,” Currie said.
The Junior Boks are happy to have the first game behind them and now start to focus on continued improvement, Currie indicated.
“We did struggle in certain areas against Georgia, but then, that first game was always going to be a tough one for us, as we have not played at that level for a while and intensity was something we needed to get used to. Now that it is out of the way, we are looking at stepping up in our effort and output.”
South Africa were put under huge pressure by the Georgian pack at scrum-time and won only 57% possession on their own put-in, the worst return in round one and therefor struggled to get their attack going as a result. They carried for the fewest metres (209) and made the fewest passes (76) in the match, post-match stats revealed.
“We did address that. It was all a matter of experience I believe, and some of the changes to the team will reflect that. We did tell the players that all will get a run in the opening two games and that plan has not changed.
“The changes are not in disrespect to Italy or anything, we just need to give everyone in the squad the opportunity to get into the tournament. Yes, we need to lay a better platform this time and that is exactly what we intend to do.”
Currie said the experience of Cornѐ Lavagna, who will start at loose head, and Tiaan Wessels at lock will benefit them at scrum time. “Blokkies (Lavagna) did play in last year’s U20 Summer Series, so has good experience at this level and Tiaan is a scrumming lock, so we are looking at good outcomes in that regard.”
The Italian challenge will be fierce, Currie predicted: “They will be hurting because of the big loss against Argentina as they are a better team than that. They came within one score of beating England and France in the Six Nations and play with lots of skill and flair. But we have our plan ready for this match and have worked hard to deliver the best outcome for us.”
Italy also made 10 changes to their side and two positional changes, but for Currie that is of little significance.
“We are just looking at ourselves and what we need to do in this game to get the win. We are looking for good improvement from the last match and I am confident that the result will be a positive one for us.”
Head to Head:
Osaka 2009: Junior Boks won 65-3
Cape Town 2012: Junior Boks won 52-3
Calvisano 2015: Junior Boks won 33-5
Match details: South Africa v Italy
Venue: Paarl Gymnasium, Paarl
Referee: Rueben Keane (Australia)
TV: Live on SuperSport 211