The loss to England on Tuesday destroyed the Junior Boks’ hopes of lifting the trophy for the second time - with their only tournament win coming on home soil in 2012. And while Koen reckons they’re going to hurt for some time still, he said they were excited to face the six-time tournament winners New Zealand.
“The guys had two days of recovery and a little time away from rugby, so we got back to training this morning,” said Koen. “We had to overcome the disappointment of going down in the semi-final, although it is still going to hurt for a long time. But it was important to get our minds right for the next game.
“There is an excitement in the camp that we are playing against New Zealand, and this is a fantastic opportunity because not many players in South Africa have experienced this. So the players are keen to get out there again and finish the tournament on a high.”
According to Koen, there will be a few things they’ll have to keep an eye on in Béziers, but it’s the Kiwis’ kicking game in particular that he has raised as a crucial area to keep in check, while their own defence – something that has let them down in recent weeks – will also be important.
“New Zealand play a fast game and they use their scrums and line-outs as a platform to attack. They like to bring their big backs into the game as quickly as possible, while they also have a lot of skill in their backline and beautiful attacking plays.
“They play a kicking game from inside their half, and apply a lot of pressure by keeping the ball in the opposition’s half, so we need to be ready to cover their kicking game and we have to be organised on defence.”