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Hunter looks ahead to South Africa

22 March 2012

  • No rest for Six Nations champions as Head Coach looks ahead to JWC
  • Rob Hunter pleased with progress players are making at club level
England Under 20 head coach Rob Hunter

Photo: Getty Images

After winning his second successive Six Nations, England U20 Head Coach Rob Hunter’s thoughts are firmly on the future as he looks ahead to the Junior World Championships in June.

England U20 lost to New Zealand in the final of the 2011 Junior World Championships and have an equally difficult test ahead of them as they face hosts South Africa in the pool stages along with Ireland and Italy.

Hunter, whose side beat Ireland U20 20-9 at Adams Park last Friday, is happy with how the 2012 season has progressed but is now ready for the next challenge.

“We are very excited about the World Cup but we have to bear in mind that it is a difficult competition and it will be tough,” Hunter said.

“We have got a really tough pool in that we have got Ireland and South Africa and Italy and the Ireland and South Africa games will be within four days of each other which will be very difficult in South Africa.

“We have got quite a young side especially up front but we have also got some older guys to come back into the mix as well that haven’t really featured through the Six Nations.

“So we are really happy with the players and I think given some of the performances in the Six Nations you would be hard pushed not to be excited by guys like Anthony [Watson]. He really is a tremendous talent and a tremendous lad to work with.

“Marland [Yarde] has done really well in the Six Nations and similarly up front we have had guys push really hard. I think Jack Clifford has been absolutely outstanding throughout the tournament.”

England Under 20 line up

Photo: Getty Images

Although the coaching staff will be in regular contact, the U20 squad will not re-group until a training camp in May before they fly out to South Africa.

But Hunter is pleased with the progress and improvement his young players are making at club level with the likes of Leicester’s George Ford and Bath’s Tom Heathcote playing fly half in the Aviva Premiership and many others playing regularly for loan clubs in the Championship.

“It’s incredibly useful for us as coaches to have guys with that sort of experience that they have had with their Premiership clubs coming into our environment,” Hunter added.

Despite a narrow away defeat to France, Hunter’s side topped the U20 Six Nations Championship with a series of dominant performances which pleased Hunter and his team who had less contact time with the players ahead of the tournament.

And with club commitments forcing him to play five different players at No 10 in five games, Hunter believes there is strength in depth for the future: “I think in the long term that will benefit English rugby. It’s not ideal in terms of the tournament and chopping and changing your fly half all the time but that was the situation we are in and we have to applaud the lads who have come in.”