The Junior Springboks are happy with their build-up to the opening match of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship and know what to expect from Italy when they clash on Tuesday, according to their captain Hanro Liebenberg. The SA Under-20 skipper and his team mates are working hard to fine-tune their final preparations for their opening clash against the tournament hosts in Calvisano. The Italians are hosting the Under-20 Championship from 2-20 June across four venues and the South Africans are grouped in Pool B alongside the home team, Samoa and Australia.
The Junior Boks arrived three days ago at their tournament base in Parma and enjoyed their first full field session on Friday afternoon at the beautiful Zebre Rugby Club ground, which is situated within walking distance from their team hotel. Liebenberg is the younger brother of 2012 Junior Bok skipper Wiaan, who led the SA Under-20’s to their first Junior World Championship success. With the clash against fiery home team Italy in mind, the current skipper said he learnt a lot from his older brother who captained the Junior Boks to success in front of their very passionate South African supporters.
Liebenberg says: ‘The home team is always under huge pressure to perform in front of their own fans. We all know Italy will be highly motivated and very determined to show their ability in their first match against us. We will have to be mentally strong and very focussed and also make sure we stick to our game plan and stay within our structure.’ The brothers’ rugby careers show a remarkable similarity. Both attended the HTS Drostdy high school in Worcester and both represented Boland at the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week. Hanro also followed his brother up north to Pretoria and Blue Bulls, where he too represented the Blue Bulls at Currie Cup age-group level, in the Vodacom Cup and most recently in the Super Rugby competition.
The Junior Boks have one full session left, on Sunday, before finishing off their preparations with the Captain’s Run on Monday evening.