- Peel pinpoints all-round threats of South Africa
- England primed to defend JWC crown
England Under 20 forwards coach Ian Peel says South Africa will present an all-round challenge in Friday’s Junior World Championship final, but insists his side have prepared diligently and are extremely excited about defending their trophy at Eden Park.
England earned the chance for a repeat of last summer’s tournament win by beating Ireland 42-15 in the semi-final on Sunday with a fine display. Five tries punctuated a clinical attacking performance, but Nick Walshe’s charges were just as impressive without the ball – making 141 tackles and missing just 21.
Peel praised that “huge physical effort”, but did not shy away from the fact that England’s next opponents have looked just as formidable. Having outmuscled hosts New Zealand twice already this month, South Africa will be a particularly tough proposition in the contact area.
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“The South Africans really pride themselves on their set-piece,” said Peel. “They have a strong lineout and a strong scrum and bring a really edge to that with some hard carrying around the fringes and a good mauling game.
“They come around the corner in attack and hit breakdowns very hard too.That’s not just restricted to their forwards, either. They have some big backs who are strong up the middle – their whole midfield is full of big guys who can be very direct.
“They also have pace on the outside so they’ve got a full game they can go to when they need it. We’ve just got to be in the best place to try and match that.”
The likes of Callum Braley, Henry Purdy and Harry Sloan may have been involved in the successful Junior World Championship campaign a year ago, but the squad has made a collective effort to cast complacency aside.
Finishing with one last glance ahead, Peel echoed that sentiment.
“There are only a couple of guys involved this year who were around last year. It’s a new group and we feed off each other.
“The boys are absolutely buzzing to get back into some rugby and work towards Friday night. We’re hugely enthusiastic about it and we just want to get stuck in.”