The Junior Springboks who toiled and sweated on Tuesday for a place in the semi-finals of the o. 20-World tournament, say they are ready for the challenge that awaits them on Sunday.
After the team trailed 7-16 at half-time, the Junior Bokke threw everything into the battle to eventually triumph 24-16 against Argentina at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town.
Bafana Nhleko, head coach of the Junior Boxing Team, thanked the crowd in the Athlone Stadium for their support which “carried the team through a dramatic second half”.
“The crowd was so supportive and the players responded well to that energy. Our players are not often exposed to this kind of support and they are taking it all in, I really hope the crowd comes back on Sunday when we play against Ireland.”
The team expects a tough match against Ireland, but according to Nhleko, the “difficult road to the semi-finals” will count in the team’s favour.
“When we received the draw we knew it was going to be a difficult pool to compete in. Italy and Georgia continue to improve and they entered this tournament with clear intentions to make their mark in world rugby.”
Nhleko says that Argentina has always been one of the main contenders in the tournament and that they proved it once again.
“The fact that all three teams have strong set-pieces also made it difficult – we had three tough games against them.
“It will always be a struggle, but I also know that the more we play together and experience the intensity of test rugby, the better we will become.”
Nhleko says the semi-final is the next challenge on the journey the team will face.
“We played against Ireland in the Summer Series last year so we know what to expect. A whole number of players we played against last year are back in this tournament.
“They did really well through the o. 20-Six Nations tournament, and have performed superbly in this competition so far.
“They have also experienced adversity in the past few days which will make them more focused in the upcoming matches,” says Nhleko.
“Ireland are a well-coached team, and their skills will challenge us in different ways.”
The showdown between the Junior Springboks and Ireland takes place on Sunday afternoon at 16:30 in the Athlone Stadium. This is followed by the second semi-final between France and England at 19:00.
Source: Springboks Rugby