Can Pollard sink Baby Blacks again?
Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard will be hoping to continue his unbeaten run against the Baby Blacks when they square off in their semifinal.
Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard will be hoping to continue his unbeaten run against the Baby Blacks when they square off in their semifinal on Sunday.
The Bulls flyhalf has not lost to the New Zealand Under-20 side in three previous encounters and will play in his third consecutive semifinal after making his Junior World Championship debut in 2012 on home soil in South Africa. In 2012 he won the JWC title as a schoolboy while last year he was in the exciting Junior Boks team that finished third in France.
The South Africans head into the game with something of a psychological advantage having beaten the Baby Blacks in the pool stage last week, and they will have to repeat that this weekend if they are to progress to the final at Eden Park.
The Junior Boks have shrugged off their early tournament injury woes which saw them having four players on the sideline at one stage. They also came through unbeaten after safely navigating tough encounters against Scotland, New Zealand and Samoa. The last match was played in testing conditions, with an ice-cold wind and swirling rain in Pukekohe.
Speaking to media on Friday, Pollard said that the key would be not to get carried away in the hype and focus on what they need to do.
"It it is more of a mental challenge than anything else. There is all the hype, excitement and huge build-up to the match but as a team you need to stay in your system so that you can execute your plan well," he said.
The Junior Bok captain said that the mood in the camp is good, with the players embracing the challenge that New Zealand will present.
"There is a very good mood in our camp. We are excited by the prospects of playing NZ at home again. It will be daunting task but the guys are looking forward to play because this is a vital match and a must win situation," said Pollard.
He added his team has taken a lot of confidence from their pool win over New Zealand, but each player knows it will be much harder come Sunday.
"Our team has a real desire to play in the final and we realise that if we want to achieve that then we must be clinical and take our opportunities. We all know that New Zealand is a side that can punish you severely for making mistakes," added Pollard.