The Junior Springbok training squad kicked off their preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship on a solid note on Monday with a jam-packed training day in Stellenbosch after getting together on Sunday.
The squad, in the absence of players from the Vodacom Super Rugby franchises, Springbok Sevens squad and FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International, started the two-week training camp with an early morning conditioning session before taking to the field for two skills sessions.
They will complete the day’s training with a split session in which the forwards and backs will each have a late-afternoon gym and field session.
Curwin Bosch and Benhard Janse van Rensburg are on Vodacom Super Rugby duty with the Cell C Sharks, while Zain Davids and Stedman Gans are in North America with the Blitzboks, where they won the HSBC Las Vegas Sevens in the early hours of Monday morning (SA time).
Wikus Groenewald, Kwenzo Blose, Abram Venter, Ernst van Rhyn, Reinhard Nothnagel, Eduan Lubbe, Len Massyn, Manie Libbok, Wandisile Simelane, Manuel Rass and Gianni Lombard, meanwhile, will join the squad on Tuesday due to Varsity Cup commitments.
The various Varsity Cup players will return to their teams again on Thursday afternoon, while the two Vodacom Super Rugby players will remain with the Cell C Sharks for the duration of the camp.
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux was pleased to get the preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championships underway and said the focus this week would be on assessing the players and putting their structures in place for the international spectacle.
“We had a great start to the camp,” said Roux.
“We pushed the players hard at training and they have reacted positively, which is very pleasing.
“The main objective at this camp is to assess the state of the players physically and mentally because this is the first time we work with some of them. We need to lay the foundation now so that the players can improve in the required areas as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, the venues and times for the team’s warm-up matches on their tour to the central unions from 26 March to 9 April were confirmed on Monday.
They will face the Down Touch Griffons at the HT Pelatona Projects stadium in Welkom at 15h00 on Friday, 31 March, Tafel Lager Griquas in Kimberley at 18h00 on Wednesday, 5 April, and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at 15h00 at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday, 8 April.
The Junior Springboks will play two further warm-up matches, against the Varsity Cup Dream Team on Tuesday, 25 April, and DHL Western Province on Tuesday, 9 May, in Stellenbosch during their third training camp, which runs from 18 April to 12 May.
They will conclude their preparations for the tournament with a holding camp in Stellenbosch from 21 to 25 May.