Junior Springbok captain Phendulani Buthelezi said they are excited about the challenge of facing New Zealand in their final pool game on Wednesday.
The SA U20s will line up against New Zealand in their third and final pool match in Rosario in a match that will determine which team qualify automatically for the semi-final stages, and whether the losing team will progress to the top four on log points.
The top team in each pool and the next-best placed team in the competition will battle it out for places in the final of the international showpiece on Saturday, 22 June.
The Junior Springboks returned to the training field on Monday after a recovery day on Sunday, where they turned their attention to the vital encounter.
‘We played two very important games in the last week, and I think we have grown a lot as a squad,’ Buthelezi said.
‘There are areas we wanted to improve on, and we have certainly gone out there and done that, but there are also things we have to fix. So it has been a huge learning curve for us.
‘All the teams have eased their way into the U20 Championship, and we now know what to expect from the others, so we are ready to go out there and build on what we have done up to now.
‘It is now up to us to make that mental switch, and go out there on Wednesday and do our best. We obviously need to ensure that we prepare well, but the main thing for us is to focus on what we need to bring to the game.’
Buthelezi emphasised the importance of starting the clash strongly, which he says was one of the biggest lessons they took from their matches against Georgia and Scotland.
‘We need to get our matches off to a better start; that is a big work-on for us,’ Buthelezi said. ‘We have established that we create opportunities in the first half, but don’t finish off, and this places us under pressure.
‘That is something we really need to step up. We want to reach the point where we walk away with points if we get close to the opposition tryline.’
Photo: Gerry OSullivan