Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux, who will guide the South Africa Under-19 team on a two-match tour to Georgia, said they were looking forward to the challenge in Tbilisi, with the players and coaching staff set to benefit from the experience.
From the players’ perspective, it will mark the first time some of them participate in an overseas tour, while Roux and his assistant coaches will get good insight into what their charges have to offer on the field under pressure and outside of their comfort zones.
This tour, in many ways, is something of a first. There was no U19 competition with a series of league matches to evaluate the best players in this age group, who traditionally formed the nucleus of the Junior Springboks in their U20 year.
Coach Roux very much had to rely on the leading players' performances at schools level, some last year and others this year, and the truncated U19 competition that was played at the end of the season.
♦ SA Rugby Communications report that the squad gathered at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Sunday and took the field for the first time on Monday morning.
They will continue their preparations in Stellenbosch until Wednesday, with the squad set to depart for the Georgian capital later that evening.
The team will face the Georgian U19 team in two matches, on Monday 2 and on Thursday 5 December.
“It is good to get the players together and to be back on the field,” said Roux.
“Some of them come off a season-ending break and others from pre-season programmes at their provincial unions, so they are at different stages of training at this point. But the enthusiasm in the squad is high, and that is all we can ask for.”
Roux said they were looking forward to seeing how the players adapt to the new environment and cold conditions in Georgia: “This tour originated from an invitation from Georgia to come on tour and play two matches against their junior teams, and it replaces our usual Under-18 and Under-19 assessment camps.
“It will certainly push us out of our comfort zones because it is not only another country, but we will also be playing in very cold conditions. So, it will be a good adventure.
“For the coaches, in particular, it will offer an opportunity to learn a lot more about the players than that which one would generally see at training camps in Stellenbosch and Potchefstroom for example, so it is going to be a fantastic experience.”
Looking at the bigger picture with the eye on the future, Roux added: “SA Rugby has a few plans, especially with the new contracting model, and these types of camps and tours give us good insight into where the talent is and where the shortcomings are – and that is exactly what we would like to achieve from this tour. So yes, we are looking forward to it.”
Issued by SA Rugby Communications