EDINBURGH, Scotland – Junior Springbok fullback Gianni Lombard on Wednesday described the opportunity to represent the SA Under-20’s for the second season as a dream come true as the team got down to business in Edinburgh before Friday’s clash against Scotland.
The players had their first field training session at the Oriam sports performance centre and followed this up with a split session outdoors in the cold and wet Scottish conditions. Friday’s match will kick off at the Murrayfield B field at 14h00.
The three-match tour, which also features Tests against Wales in Cardiff and England in Worcester, is part of the team’s preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship, which will be hosted in the south of France from 30 May to 17 June.
Lombard, who was born in Worcester in the Western Cape, has been a regular feature in SA Rugby’s junior high performance structures in the last few years, having progressed from the SA Schools team to the Junior Springboks.
“It is a privilege to represent the Junior Springboks for the second year in a row,” said Lombard. “It is a great feeling especially since few players receive the chance to play for the team in back-to-back seasons.
“Having played last year I know what it is expected of us as players and what lies ahead in terms of the quality of the teams we will face here in the UK and at the World Rugby U20 Championship, so I am very excited about the opportunity.”
Scotland is one of two Six Nations teams that Lombard has yet to face, with the other being Italy, and he looked forward to testing himself against them.
“This is my first trip to Scotland and also the first time I will face Scotland in a Test, so this is really exciting,” said Lombard. “This tour will serve as fantastic preparation with an eye on the World Rugby U20 Championship, so it is important that we take as much as possible from these matches.
“Scotland will enter the match well prepared after the U20 Six Nations, but our preparation has also been good, so it will be a solid Test for both teams.”
Lombard may have selected rugby as his chosen sport, but he showed fantastic sporting talent from a young age, with the player having participated in the 400m hurdles event at Under-17 Youth World Athletics Championships, while he also played in the Under-13 and Under-17 National Cricket Weeks.
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux will announce his team to face Scotland on Thursday.
African News Agency (ANA)