(Photo supplied by Gallo Images)
After watching the Springbok Sevens secure the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title with a victory in Paris on Sunday, Junior Springbok and Blitzboks strongman Zain Davids hoped that a similarly brave effort by the SA U20s could steer them to success in Georgia.
The Junior Springboks depart for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Tbilisi on 25 May where they will face France, Georgia and Argentina in the pool stages of the competition.
Davids, who is one of eight players in the 28-man squad who played in last year’s U20 Champs in Manchester, said he was looking forward to the challenge with a little over two weeks before their opening match, where they will be looking to make the country proud.
“As a young player it is an honour to have represented the Springbok Sevens team and to be part of the Junior Springbok team that will be participating in the World Rugby U20 Championship,” said Davids.
“The fact that the Blitzboks have already wrapped up the World Series title and the opportunity to play in the World Rugby U20 Championship for the second time has made this year and even more special and memorable.
“That said, we face a massive challenge now as the Junior Springboks, and I am looking forward to making new memories with this great bunch of guys. Our preparation for the tournament has been good and I believe that we can win the trophy if we play to our potential.”
The former Rondebosch Boys’ High School pupil, who scored three tries in last year’s U20 Championship, started playing rugby on the pavements of Swellendam as a young boy, and graduated through SA Rugby’s junior structures, where he advanced from the Coca-Cola U16 Grant Khomo Week and Coca-Cola U18 Craven Week to the SA Schools team and later the Junior Springboks and Springbok Sevens teams.
And while he gained invaluable experience and learned many lessons over the last few years, he believes he is now on the right track to reaching his desired fitness and skills levels.
“With fitness and conditioning being key aspects of Sevens rugby, I have paid a lot of attention those aspects in the last few months and with that comes mental strength,” said Davids.
“So hopefully I that will allow me to make a solid contribution to the team in Georgia.
“A few of us have played against teams such as France and Argentina before in the tournament and we have an idea of what to expect in the U20 Championship, and it will be important to share that knowledge with the other players, o that we can produce quality performances and deliver good results.”
Reflecting on his year so far, Davids admitted that being selected for two national teams still felt surreal, and said it was a dream come true. He is one of two members of the 2017 Blitzbok team who were selected for Chean Roux’s SA U20s, the other begin midfielder Stedman Gans.
“As a young child I always dreamed of playing for my country, so I am delighted that things worked out that way, especially at such a young age,” said the talented player.
“I certainly didn’t expect it to happen so soon. But I am grateful for every opportunity to wear the green and gold, and I plan to keep giving my best in every match I play.”