Junior Springboks backline coach Mzwandile Stick says they are expecting England to pose a different challenge in Tuesday's U20 Championship semi-final in Tbilisi.
Speaking after the coaches’ review of the team’s final pool match in the tournament against Argentina, which the SA U20s won 72-14, Stick said while they could take many positives from the match, there was still hard work ahead to achieve their goal of lifting the trophy.
'We faced different challenges in our other pool matches, with the clash against France being in wet conditions, so we couldn’t play the type of rugby we wanted to play, while Georgia proved to be a tough side at home.
'We knew Argentina would test us and we had to make sure that we gave our best, and the players did very well. We put them [Argentina] under pressure in the scrums and lineouts, and the forwards laid a good foundation for the backs to get front-foot ball.
'As a team we are certainly moving in the right direction. But that said, the players are humble and they realise that we haven’t achieved anything yet.'
The Junior Boks will face England in the first semi-final in Tbilisi at 16:00 (SA time) on Tuesday, with New Zealand going up against France in the other semi-final.
'It will be a tough task,' said Stick. 'England are a top-class side and they are the defending champions. They have physical forwards and big backline players who run hard, so they will pose a different challenge to Argentina.'
Fortunately for the Junior Boks coaching staff, there were no injuries from the match against Argentina, but Stick emphasised that good recovery would be essential in the next few days to ensure that the players are able to give their best in the semi-final.
'We have an extra day to prepare for the semi-final, and it is vital that we manage the players very well.'
Photo: Levan Verdzeuli/World Rugby