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Augustus set to truck on in SA Rugby

By Craig Ray | 2017-06-20 16:36:44.0

Burly Junior Springbok looseforward Juarno Augustus is not called ‘Trokkie’ (small truck) for nothing.

He’s built for power; from the wide set shoulders and massive arms‚ to the broad hips and thunderous thighs.

He takes some stopping‚ even from a standing start.

Stopping him was a problem that all opponents at the recently completed World Rugby Under-20 Championships in Georgia had.

Augustus scored seven tries in five games – scoring in each match – and earned the player of the tournament award.

There wasn’t a single team that could quite cope with his low centre of gravity and tackle-busting runs.

At 1.85m and 116kg there is a lot of bulk behind the attitude it takes to mow down would-be tacklers almost at will.

Augustus‚ who hails from the western Cape via Tygerberg High‚ the school that produced Bok hard man Eben Etzebeth‚ Blitzboks star Justin Geduld and Bulls wing Travis Ismail‚ is on the right path to follow all of them to greater things.

Winning the Player of the Tournament‚ when his side didn’t even make the final‚ is unheard of.

That award has always gone to a player from one of the two competing finalists since its inception in 2008.

Augustus joins some illustrious names on the roll of honour too – Aaron Cruden and Julian Savea from New Zealand‚ South Africa’s Jan Serfontein and Handré Pollard and England’s George Ford are just five winners that have made a huge impression at Test level.

“”Ja‚ those are some big names that have gone before me‚” Augustus told TimesLIVE‚ after the Junior Boks’ return from Tbilisi after winning the bronze medal by beating France 37-15 on Sunday.

“It’s really special to on that list of names. Jan (Serfontein) and Handré (Pollard)‚ who was at my primary school in Somerset West‚ have gone on to be Springboks.

"That inspires me and gives me confidence that if I keep working hard I could also become a senior Bok.

“But I can’t take credit for my performances because it all comes down to the hard work my teammates do as well. I just finished off those tries.”

Augustus will return to Western Province where he is on a junior contract.

That situation might change rapidly because there will be massive interest in his services if the union‚ which overlooked him for the under-18 Craven Week last year‚ doesn't secure his services on a more lucrative deal soon.

Augustus didn’t want to talk about his contractual situation with WP‚ rather preferring to focus on the way forward this year.

“I used the failure to make the under-18 Craven Week team as motivation to become better‚” Augustus said.

“Now I hope I make the WP under-21 team for the national competition and maybe with a bit of luck I can make the senior Currie Cup team too‚” he said.

“The World Champs was a new experience for me because every game was of a higher level than I’ve ever encountered.

“I went into each match just trying to play as hard as I could and give my all.

"I like taking the ball into contact and since I was little coaches have told me that it’s a strength that I need to play to.”

But he’s far from one-dimensional and showed with deft offloads and some big tackles that defence is also a strong aspect of his game.

He finished in the top 20 of tackles made with 48 for the tournament – the third highest in the Junior Bok team after flank Ernst van Rhyn and lock Ruben van Heerden.

“People didn’t see me as a great defender but it was something I worked really hard on as well‚” Augustus said.

“The ball-carrying is also a product of hard work and good coaching from many people. I’m still learning and I know that I have to improve areas of my game‚ fitness being one aspect.

"I have to work hard at it because that high level of fitness doesn’t come naturally to me.”

His honest assessment is refreshing as is his recollection of his favourite moment.

“The opening game against France (which ended in 23-23 draw) was my best moment of the tournament‚” Augustus said.

“It was the first time I’ve represented my country and sung the anthem. Scoring the try to get the draw‚ made it even more special.” - TimesLIVE