CAPE TOWN – Flyhalf Damian Willemse says he’s looking forward to getting the World Rugby Under-20 Championship underway with the Junior Springboks in France tomorrow.
Willemse, who is also the vice-captain of the side, will take part in his first game with Chean Roux’s team this season in their tournament-opener against Georgia at Stade Aime Giral in Perpignan (6.30pm kickoff).
The Junior Boks played two warm-up games against the Georgians before they departed to the south of France while Willemse was on Super Rugby duty with the Stormers. And although they won both convincingly, Willemse is expecting a passion and pride-fuelled Georgian outfit tomorrow.
“The team is really excited to get going. A lot of the preparation is now done and it is almost time to play the first match,” he said.
“There will certainly be a lot of passion and pride in that game, and we are expecting Georgia to have a fair amount of supporters. We know it is going to be tough and very physical, but our preparation has been good, and we will give everything on the field.
“It is awesome to be here in France for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship, which is one of my favourite tournaments to participate in.
“With the first game coming up we are really excited, and personally I am looking forward to playing my first game with the guys and getting the tournament underway.
“It is also special to be the vice-captain. It is really a big honour and privilege, and an opportunity I am cherishing.”
The Stormers flyhalf said the team had settled in well at their base in Gruissan, which is just outside Narbonne, where they will play their last two pool matches.
“We have been here for a little over two days now, and we have settled in well,” said Willemse.
“We had our first training session yesterday and another today, which went well, and we are getting a lot of work done. Fortunately there is not a lot of change the guys have to adapt to, so it is almost like being back home, which has made it easy to settle in.”
The Junior Boks will face Ireland on Sunday and hosts France next on Thursday respectively in their remaining pool matches.