Although the young men will take a break from field training over the weekend, they will continue with their programme on Saturday, undertaking a hike in Camps Bay as part of their team-building exercises.

Sunday will be an activity free day for the U20s, and they will resume their technical and tactical preparations on Monday.

The 35-man squad assembled last Sunday at their base camp at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) in the heart of the Winelands to kick-start preparations in earnest for the Junior Springboks’ forthcoming international season.

Apart from participating in the World Rugby U20 Championship in the Western Cape in June and July, the Junior Boks will also participate in the inaugural SANZAAR U20 Rugby Championship to be hosted by Australia in April.

Nhleko said he was very satisfied with the effort of the group so far: “The focus has been on rugby fundamentals up to now, which also included the two assessment camps prior to the start of the camp.

Philip-Albert van Niekerk in action against UWC.

Philip-Albert van Niekerk in action against UWC.

“They are now progressing to apply changes and implement defensive and attacking principles. While the team’s overall system is still very much a work in progress, the goal is to align everyone toward the programme’s long-term vision.”

According to the SA U20 coach, conditioning remains a priority, and forthcoming training sessions next week will also stress rugby principles and skill testing.

The squad had a non-contact on-field session against UWC’s FNB Varsity Cup outfit, which the group enjoyed thoroughly.

Nhleko said a few full-on training matches against Currie Cup teams are in the pipeline for the beginning of March, which will test the readiness of the squad before their excursion to Australia for the inaugural SANZAAR U20 event.

“Those provincial training games will give us further opportunities to test our readiness, adaptability and learning from different oppositions,” said Nhleko.

The SA Rugby Academy is one of key pillars in preparing the top juniors in the country to make the step-up to the SA Under-20 squad. The well-structured programme was launched seven years ago and aims to balance formal education with high-performance training and player welfare.