SA Rugby Acting High Performance manager Louis Koen said the objectives were achieved at the two Junior Springbok assessment camps this week, but that a lot of hard work lies ahead to prepare for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
A total of 86 players were invited to the camps, which were hosted at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies) in Pretoria and Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS), and all the players – with the exception of those preparing for Vodacom Super Rugby and Zain Davids, who is in Wellington with the Springbok Sevens squad – attended the camps.
“We reached the outcomes we had hoped to achieve at the camps,” said Koen.
“In terms of conditioning we have work to do, especially with the younger players. But some of the players who have been training with their Vodacom Super Rugby teams and those who participated in the SA Rugby U19 Championship last season were at a good level.
“The main focus for us was to establish a baseline, and now that we have it we can work from here and plan accordingly. Dr Warren Adams (Springbok conditioning coach) and his team will now communicate with the players and their provincial unions, so that we can make sure they are at the expected levels when the squad is selected and assembles in camp.”
A Junior Springbok training squad of 45 players will be selected at the end of February, and will have their first training camp from 5 to 17 March in Cape Town.
This will be followed by a local tour, from 26 March to 9 April, where they will play warm-up matches against teams from the Down Touch Griffons, Griquas and Toyota Free State Cheetahs, and a training camp in Cape Town, from 18 April to 12 May.
The team will conclude their preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship with a four-day holding camp in May before they depart for the international spectacle on 25 May.
“We plan to visit the unions so that we can get to the players to follow up on what they did at these camps,” said Koen.
“With the assessment camps concluded, we believe our preparations will go smoothly as our planning leading up to the tournament is completed.
“I think we managed to get a great group of players together. They have immense potential and talent and I am very positive about this group. Once the coaching staff are appointed, we will ensure that they are happy and ready to go.”
The SA Under-20s will face France, hosts Georgia and Argentina in the pool stages of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 31 May, 4 June and 8 June respectively.