Junior Springbok captain, Handré Pollard, and coach, Dawie Theron joined the captains and coaches of all the participating teams at the official opening of the IRB Junior World Championship in Auckland on Friday morning.
A traditional New Zealand Maori welcome launched the JWC as the captains, coaches and rugby dignitaries gathered for the tournament start.
Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Pollard will be one of only a handful of international players to play in three successive JWC tournaments. As a schoolboy, he was part of the SA U20 team that won South Africa’s first ever JWC title in 2012. Last year he was a member of the team that won bronze in France.
Speaking to the media at the official opening in Auckland, Pollard said a successful JWC is a great launching platform for any young player’s career.
“There are lots of talented players here,” said the Junior Bok skipper. “It’s going to be a massive challenge, but as a team we are really looking forward to it and we cannot wait to play on Monday against Scotland.”
According to Pollard he will be looking to share his JWC experiences with his team mates: “I’ve learnt a lot from playing in the two previous two and will no doubt learn a great deal more by the time this one is over. I learnt what it takes to win it and I also know the terrible feeling of losing it. So, hopefully I will be able to share some of my experiences with the guys around me.”
The Junior Bok flyhalf reckon it will take something special to win the JWC. “It really means a lot for your career if you win the JWC because it can take you so far forward. It is definitely a special tournament to win and it takes something special to be successful at this event.”
Looking forward to the three pool matches, Pollard said each game will be very difficult.
“Scotland are always good at the breakdown, New Zealand will be a massive challenge at home and Samoa are a great physical threat. But we will prepare as best as we can for each match and just take it one match at a time.”
Jonah Lomu share his wisdom.
With just three days to go until the Under 20 tournament gets underway, the 12 captains met for the first time before getting ready do battle during the premier age-grade competition.
At the Orakei Marae in Auckland the players were joined by All Black legend and JWC Tournament Ambassador Jonah Lomu who passed on his words of wisdom.
“This is the time when you see Rugby in its raw form and it’s great, said the legendary Lomu. “These guys are here to impress, they’re still at the stage where they want to showcase their skills. They could be the new household names of World Rugby.”
#JWC2014 matches kick off on Monday June 2 in Auckland, with the pool stages held at QBE Stadium in North Harbour Stadium and Ecolight Stadium Pukekohe. The final will take place on June 20 in Eden Park.