Junior Wallabies focused on good start in France

World Rugby U20s Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Junior Wallabies are camped in France and captain Ryan Lonergan says they’re determined to kick their U20s World Championship off well.

Australia opens its tournament against Wales on Thursday morning, AEST, hoping to repeat a 2017 effort, where they edged the Welsh in the opener.

Lonergan faced the media , in his first official tournament duty in France, and said they were acutely aware of the importance of a strong start.

“It's going to set up the whole competition really,” he said.

“With only three pool games, you really have to win all three if you want to go on and win the World Cup, so the first game is the best one to start at and we obviously have a tough pool this year, but you've got to beat all the teams to take out the World Cup.

“We're really excited for it.”

Ryan Lonergan in action for the Australian Schoolboys in 2016. Photo: Getty ImagesLonergan said Wales, who finished fifth in this year’s U20s Six Nations, would be a tricky prospect first up.

“They were a bit up and down in the Six nations and they're going to be a really good side,” he said.

“They look quite large, they're bigger bodies than us so I think it'll be a very physical game and they obviously have a smart kicking game, so we've got to counter that and just stick to our structures. “

The Junior Wallabies will almost definitely have to beat defending champions New Zealand if they want to progress to the semi-finals and Lonergan said they had learned plenty from their recent meeting in the Oceania U20s.

“I think we put a game plan in place for that last game against New Zealand and we really didn't execute it, so we've been working on things we can do better, just little simple things n our game that we need to improve o,” he said.

“ I think that game against New Zealand was a really good learning curve for us and we've just been trying to work on that, so hopefully we've done that and we can play a little bit better than what we did against New Zealand.”

Lonergan has been fighting it out with halfback Tate McDermott for a starting spot, a duel he said was only going to benefit the team.

“Tate's a really good player, he's a really exciting player and we have a couple of different things about our game, which is good,” he said.

“It really pushes each other to get the best out of ourselves and it's really good having competition like that, not only in our position but all across the team. It really gets the best out of everyone.”

The Junior Wallabies open their World Rugby U20s campaign against Wales on Thursday May 31 at 5am AEST, LIVE STREAMED on worldrugby.org.