Baby Boks confident ahead of final
Baby Boks captain Wian Liebenberg is in a confident mood ahead of the IRB Junior World Championship final against the Baby Blacks at Newlands on Friday evening.
Coach Dawie Theron said after their most recent outing five days ago, that the SA under-20s produced a performance which suggested they have peaked at the right time.
Meanwhile, four-time champions New Zealand lost their first ever match in a Junior World Championship tournament when they were beaten by Wales in a pool clash earlier this month.
The Baby Boks have suffered a setback with the withdrawal of their backline kingpin, the injury-hit William Small-Smith.
While Liebenberg reflected on the loss Small-Smith’s services to the championship cause, he is confident ahead of Friday’s clash.
“It is quite bad losing him leading up to final,” Liebenberg said.
“I would have loved to play with William [Small-Smith] by my side but I promise you that he will be giving everything in terms of support and will cheer the guys on.
“I know he’ll be there when we lift the trophy.”
Liebenberg felt the Baby Boks’ home ground advantage will be a massive factor for his team, and they plan to draw great inspiration from the crowd, which by Wednesday had passed the 24 000-mark.
“We want to use the crowd’s energy to lift us up as a team so that at the end of the day we rise up victorious,” Liebenberg said.
“Since I was a little boy I always dreamt of wearing green and gold, and standing in front of a fully packed stadium and singing the national anthem.
“So it’s a special moment, it’s more than special. I think it’s an opportunity that you dream of forever. It is such a privilege playing for your country, just giving your all for that jersey you’re wearing.”
Theron felt that the semi-final win against Argentina was an indication that the team is close to playing to its full potential, and that the final will bring the best out of his players.
“I thought we played our best game against Argentina,” Theron said.
“I thought that was maybe our best game up to now, so the team is growing and we believe that we can peak in the final.”
Theron added that the Baby Boks would have to take their opportunities, should they want to win against a strong New Zealand side.
“When it gets to finals you’ve got to take your opportunities, you’ve got to limit mistakes, you’ve got to be very, very aggressive,” he said.
“They [the players] have to be focused for 80 minutes.
“The main thing is that you take your opportunities and discipline in defence will be a key factor too.”