SA Schools coach Mzwakhe Nkosi says the team will act as a pathway for players to be selected for the Junior Springboks. DYLAN JACK reports.
The SA Schools and SA Schools A sides have assembled in Stellenbosch and have been hard at work ahead of the annual U18 International Series, which kicks off this Friday.
As per usual, the two sides will take on Wales, England and France, but an Argentina U18 team has been added to the roster this year.
While many fans will be eager to see the South African schoolboys take a few scalps, Nkosi told SARugbymag.co.za that they are looking at the bigger picture.
‘Our main objective is to be a pathway to the Junior Springboks,’ Nkosi said. ‘The U20 Championships is the premier youth tournament in the world from a rugby perspective. Ours is to make sure that we are a pathway to the Junior Springboks.
‘If you look at the Junior Springboks’ starting XV that played against New Zealand this year, 12 played in the 2017 SA Schools team. For me, that is a box ticked.
‘Obviously, we would still like to win,’ Nkosi added. ‘That is really important for us. It is also important for the psyche of the boys. If you have beaten New Zealand and England at this level, by the time you play against them at international level, you have that mentality.
‘We have also got to try and play a similar style to the Junior Springboks. We have got to create the alignment. Those are our three goals. All of a sudden we are getting that continuity and process that in a year or two’s time Chean Roux can win the Junior Word Championship. ‘
Nkosi has coached the KES 1st XV for the last four years, while he has also been involved with the Lions’ junior structures.
He says he feels ready for the challenge of coaching one of the country’s national sides after spending the last few years as an assistant coach.
‘It is my fourth year with the SA Schools. I worked under Lance Sendin for two years and then under Sean Erasmus and this is now my fourth year. From a having-done-my-time point of view, I think I have seen most of the things one can see. I have seen the pitfalls, and can take out what I can from my previous work.
‘Sean and Lance are both brilliant rugby coaches. Lance is probably the best man manager that I have seen. He had the ability to bring together boys from around the country. He was magnificent in that regard.
‘In the last four years I have taken a lot of those skills and hopefully I can add a bit of my identity to this team. In saying that, I do feel ready. ‘
The SA Schools A team kick off the U18 International Series on Friday against France in Stellenbosch, before the SA Schools side take on Wales later in the day.
U18 International Series fixtures:
Friday, 9 August 2019 – Paul Roos Gymnasium
1pm – SA Schools A vs France U18
2:30pm – England U18 vs Argentina U18
4pm – SA Schools vs Wales U18
Tuesday, 13 August 2019 – Paarl Gymnasium
1pm – SA Schools A vs Wales U18
2:30pm – SA Schools vs Argentina U18
4pm – England U18 vs France U18
Saturday, 17 August 2019 – Hugenote High, Wellington
12pm – SA Schools A vs Argentina U18
1:30pm – France U18 vs Wales U18
3pm – SA Schools vs England U18
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images