Junior Springbok assistant coach Bafana Nhleko – who will fulfil that role with the SA Under-19 team departing for Georgia later on Wednesday – said they had set clear goals on what they wanted to achieve from the tour and that they were excited to see the players in action.
The SA U19 team – under the guidance of Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux – will play two matches against the Georgia U19 team, on Monday 2 and Thursday 5 December, in the country’s capital, Tbilisi.
The squad wrapped up their preparations at their training base in Stellenbosch on Wednesday and Nhleko said they were ready to begin their journey.
“We are excited about the talent and how quickly the boys have learned,” said Nhleko.
“We haven’t put a lot of things in place, instead we have just given the players a basic structure of what we expect, and the whole idea is to see how they can express themselves within that.
“This will serve as a good opportunity for us to assess their strengths and weaknesses and hopefully we can use that as a building base for next year. The big thing for us is to get to know the guys and see how they think and see the game.
“What we really want to get from this tour is to return to SA with a good idea of what each player has to offer, so that we can use their strengths to allow us to grow as a team, and to improve their weaknesses.”
With the tour replacing the regular Under-18 and Under-19 assessment camps hosted by the Junior Springbok coaching staff with an eye on selecting their training squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship, Nhleko said the tour would serve the same purpose – although he admitted that facing international opposition in foreign conditions would test the players thoroughly.
“Every time the players step onto the field they want to do well, and one of the key aspects on tour is to assess them,” he said.
“That said, it is going to be tough and physical. The Georgians are also in season which presents a different challenge because it means they will be game ready. The weather will also test the boys, and that will show us a thing or two about their character of the group.”