SA Schools coach Poerie van Rooyen is confident that his team can deliver a strong performance against France U18 on Saturday.
The visiting French side eased to a 36-24 win over the SA Academy team in Durban last Saturday. The tourists out-muscled their opponents and managed to score some soft tries against a poor defensive from the hosts.
However, France will now face a stronger force in the SA Schools team, that contains a host of stars that played well at Craven Week in Kimberley in July. Van Rooyen, who coached the Pumas U18s, said his players have managed to train well together, despite the lack of time spent as a group.
‘We’ve spent about two days together, which is too little. In future, the SA Schools players should have more time together,’ Van Rooyen told keo.co.za, ‘But the boys have done tremendously well to gel in the way they have. There’s a lot of camaraderie amongst the boys and our captain Ruan Steenkamp and vice captain Dries Swanepoel have lead the guys well during our preparations and have set the example.
‘France proved they’re a tough side when they played against the SA Academy boys. But I believe this team can step up and get a win. We’re a well balanced team, with a strong pack and a dangerous backline.’
Baby Boks head coach Dawie Theron spent time with the team in PE this week and also expressed his confidence in their chances securing victory.
‘I helped pick this team and I was just here as an observer this past few days,’ Dawie also told this site. ‘It’s good for me to spend time with the boys as some of them will be in the Baby Boks set-up next year and the following season too.
‘I watched France play last weekend, and they played very well. They’ve spent a lot of time together before, so they have good structures in place. This create a challenge this Saturday, but I’m sure the SA Schools team can come right. From what I’ve seen, this is a strong group.
‘They have the forwards to dominate in the tight phases while the backs run well together and should get the platform to threaten. The players should also be able to match the French in size as the boys are well conditioned.’
By Gareth Duncan