U20 World Championship – Junior Boks Looking Forward To Loose Trio Battle Against Argentina


Junior Springbok flanker Thabang Mphafi is looking forward to the loose trio battle with Argentina when the two teams meet Thursday evening in Stellenbosch in their second Pool C game of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.

Mphafi was one of the stars of the team during the recent Under-20 Rugby Championship in Queensland, Australia, where the Junior Boks finished second behind New Zealand. He was also in the starting line-up last Saturday night when the SA U20s got their World Championship campaign off to a positive start when they comprehensively outplayed Fiji at DHL Stadium.

The last time the two sides met, two months ago, Argentina created good momentum as a result of their aggression and skills at the breakdown area, and it was only a huge fightback display in the second half that allowed the Junior Boks to edge the Pumitas in their final Rugby Championship match.

So, with the breakdown a key area, the Junior Boks will be banking on their loose trio of Tiaan Jacobs (No 8), the versatile Batho Hlekani as well as the lanky and mobile Mphafi, to stamp their authority on the game. They did that impressively against a well-drilled and physical Fijians, especially in the first half, which saw them laying a solid foundation for their comfortable win.

“The loose forwards have a specific jo to do and that is to make sure we protect our ball, secure the possession and to nullify the big threat of Argentina in that area,” explained Mphafi.

“They are a dangerous side as they showed against us in Australia and also last week, and last Saturday against England. We know all about their physicality and aggression upfront and then their skill level amongst the backs, who are really good finishers.

"Therefore, the loose trio will have to work consistently hard, to assist the team to deal with the threat of Argentina.”

Hlekani made a big impact at lock against Fiji, catching the eye with his ball carrying abilities against a strong Fijian forward pack. Thursday, he, Mphafi and Jacobs will have a big task on their hands against an Argentinean side who will be desperate for a win to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs.

Meanwhile, in one of several rotational changes in the starting backline, Bruce Sherwood will be playing in the No 15 jersey on Thursday evening.

Sherwood explained that although the SA U20s have shown a lot of creativity amongst the outside backs against Fiji, they will stay true to their SA playing style and identity.

“We have licence to run with the ball because coach gives us that freedom and licence to do that,” said Sherwood.

“However, we do know our DNA and our system, so we will go direct and be physical, and stay within our processes. But it is also good that we have that ability to be creative when the opportunities present itself."

Thursday’s second Pool C encounter between the Junior Boks and Argentina kicks off at 19h00 at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.