New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Craig Philpott has named his side to face Scotland in their opening game of the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Georgia, starting Wednesday evening NZT.
The team is:
1. Ezekiel Lindenmuth - Auckland
2. Asafo Aumua - Wellington
3. Ryan Coxon - Waikato
4. Isaia Walker Leawere - Wellington
5. Samuel Slade - Auckland
6. Dalton Papalii - Auckland
7. Tom Christie - Canterbury
8. Luke Jacobson – Captain - Waikato
9. Ereatara Enari – Vice captain - Canterbury
10. Tiaan Falcon - Hawke's Bay
11. Tima Faingaanuku - Tasman
12. Orbyn Leger - Counties Manukau
13. Braydon Ennor - Canterbury
14. Josh McKay - Canterbury
15. Will Jordan - Tasman
16. John (JP) Sauni - Auckland
17. Tim Farrell - Hawke's Bay
18. Alex Fidow - Wellington
19. Sam Caird - Waikato
20. Marino Mikaele -Tuu - Hawke's Bay
21. Kemara Hauiti Parapara - Wellington
22. Thomas Umaga Jensen - Wellington
23. Caleb Clarke - Auckland
New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Craig Philpott said it was a tough task selecting his first 23 to take on Scotland.
“All 28 guys in our squad have earned the right to wear the black jersey, so there was a lot of discussion around our selection. We have chosen an experienced team to kick off the tournament.
“We expect Scotland to be direct, physical and passionate on both attack and defence, so we have picked our team accordingly.
“Obviously, we want to make a good start to the tournament. It’s been the best part of three weeks since the Oceania Championships, so we want to get back up to where we were at that tournament in terms of our attack and defence.”
Under 20 World Championship Pool:
Wednesday 31 May, 9.00pm NZT v Scotland
Sunday 4 June 11.30pm NZT v Italy
Thursday 8 June 11.30pm NZT v Ireland
Information on World Rugby Under 20 Championship
Watch the World Rugby Under 20 Championship on SKY Sport (NZT)
Wednesday 31 May, 9.00pm NZT v Scotland on SKY Sport 3
Sunday 4 June 11.30pm NZT v Italy on SKY Sport 1
Thursday 8 June 11.30pm NZT v Ireland SKY Sport 1
Rangiora High School only won four games in the UC Championship in 2016.
After five rounds in 2017 they have already enjoyed four wins and have claimed the scalps of 2016 runners up Shirley Boys' High School and semi-final contenders St. Andrew's College.
Hooker Josh Duckworth has scored seven tries in the last three games. He bagged doubles in the 27-17 win over Waimea Combined and 28-22 victory over St. Andrew's College and celebrated a hat-trick in the 25-15 triumph over Shirley Boys' High School on Saturday.
Shirley appears to be a fading force this season, but the win against St. Andrew's was a genuine surprise.
"We got up 21-0 at halftime. Our forwards got stuck into them and they were rattled. Their No. 8 was the only ball carrier to start with." Duckworth recalls.
One of the moves Rangiora employed with great affect was a manoeuvre known internally as 'ice and water.'
"In the opposition 22 we often move forward in pods of two. If we call ice the first receiver carries, but if water is called he makes a pass. It works well." Duckworth explains.
Rangiora is an experienced team with only half a dozen players younger than Year 13 in the squad. Duckworth is a solid 105kg and supported in the front row by Lewis 'Doom' Ponini who is 125kg and captain Fletcher Newell. Flankers Angus Fletcher and George Prain are other standouts in the pack.
"I guess our forwards are our strength, but we like to play a structured game which involves everybody. Our midfield is strong with Jessie Barry and Angus Mitchell." Duckworth acclaims.
Raingora are being assisted in the coaching department by Crusaders manager Shane Fletcher. Inside knowledge of the Crusaders systems is proving invaluable Duckworth believes.
'It's great to have Shane involved. All of our coaches are good, but learning off the Crusaders is as good as it gets really."
Duckworth is in his third year of First XV rugby and rapidly approaching 50 caps. His goal is to make the Crusaders Knights camp. In the pre-season Rangiora played three games. They beat Central South Island College and Moascar Cup holders Nelson College, but lost to Christ's College.
This Saturday Rangiora travels to winless Burnside High School before heading to Nelson for a possible shot at the Moascar Cup on June 10. Nelson hosts Marlborough this weekend.
Burns Mills has grown to appreciate the value of taking nothing for granted. The Otago Boys’ High School First XV utility back is the son of David Mills, a legally blind man who won a bronze medal in the Marathon at the 1988 Seoul Paralympics.
“Growing up with a blind dad has its challenges. I guess I am a personal taxi some of the time, but Dad has been blind for 40 years. He has never complained about his condition.” Mills acclaims.
The chance to switch from Roncalli College in Timaru to Otago Boys’ High School in 2015 was an opportunity too great to refuse.
“I enjoyed my time at Roncalli, but the team wasn’t competitive and I wanted to push myself so when I had the chance to leave it was an easy decision.” Mills says.
Otago made the National Top Four two years ago. Mills enjoyed regular game time and reflects fondly on two tussles.
“My favourite game was the South Island final against Southland Boys’ High School. We had drawn the interschool so we were nervous heading into the game, but it was one of those days where everything clicked and we won well.” Mills enthuses.
In the Southland encounter prop Sione Asi scored three tries.
The National semi-final was another highlight.
“Even though we lost it was a brilliant game of rugby. The lead changed lots and it was a real challenge marking some great players like the Umaga-Jensen twins.”
In 2016, Otago had a strong team which appeared on course to have another tilt at making the Top Four, but a misguided compliancy proved detrimental. Otago was stunned by John McGlashan College in the Highlanders Regional semi-final.
“We took them too lightly which won’t happen again. The returning players are certain about that. I missed the kick on fulltime which could have drawn the game. It was disappointing, but it happens in footy and I have put it behind me.” Mills reflects.
Otago hasn’t beaten Southland for two years. Last year New Zealand Schools hooker Flynn Thomas scored twice and fullback Kaleb Talamahina scored a try that went viral in a comprehensive win for Southland. How will Otago reverse that result?
“I think we will play it traditionally, look to keep them on the back foot by plugging the corners and forcing them to run it out of their own half. We have a strong kick and chase and lineout so we will look to force mistakes.” Mills theorises.
Openside Taine TeWhata, halfback James Arscott, first-five Tevita Asi and the brothers of Otago hooker Sekonaia Pole, Tevita (first-five) and Abraham (forward reserve) are players Mills identifies as one’s to watch closely in the Otago team.
Mills himself has been in fine form. He was instrumental in the 24-22 victory over King’s College from Auckland and has stood out in the Dunedin Premier Colts competition as second-five.
“My preference is to play fullback, but I have enjoyed second-five. Our coach Mr Martin likes somebody with vision closer to the ball and I guess that’s what I bring.” Mills says.
In his spare time Mills enjoys “chilling” with friends and playing any sport.
It’s been a whirlwind last nine months or so for playmaker Cheyne Copeland and the St Mary’s College rugby team, finishing runners-up at the NZSS Top 4 Girls 15-a-side finals, winning the Wellington American Ambassador’s 7s tournament (that’s the senior club rugby 7s title), capturing the NZSS Condor 7s title, retaining the Sir Gordon Tietjens 7s crown and capping it all off a fortnight ago by being crowned world champions at the Sanix 7s tournament in Japan.
Not for the first time, Cheyne played a starring role in the Sanix 7s final against Japanese side Kokugakuin University Tochigi High School. St Mary’s were fast out of the blocks, building a big halftime lead only to see it evaporated early in the second half with a comeback. With the match in the balance, Cheyne took a quick tap and darted away to score the try that secured them the world title.
“We went into the last game in Japan really nervous; it was a different experience for us being a world event and so far away from home,” Cheyne explained to College Sport Media.
“The atmosphere was different. We normally have a lot of supporters on the sideline, but most of the girls’ parents weren’t there, whereas when we won the Condor 7s we had a lot of support and everyone had family around. So everyone just played for their family back home who weren’t able to see them play.”
What’s the secret to the team’s success? “Because we have played together for a while now we know how each other plays and we work together well. Also, no matter who we come against or what the game is our aim is to have fun, and when we have fun we get the job done.”
One example of this is when St Mary’s beat defending champions Oriental-Rongotai in last year’s Wellington club 7s final. “When we came up against Ories we just told each other just to have fun and don’t over-think things.”
Cheyne said it was also this attitude that helped them win the Condor 7s tournament. The team was held to a 12-12 with Tauranga Girls’ College in their final match on day one, but brought out the ‘fun’ mantra on day two and went on to beat Tauranga GC (quarterfinal re-match the next morning) 41-7, Southland Girls’ High School 19-7 and Hamilton Girls’ High School 19-17 in the final.
Cheyne is the captain of the 7s team, with Renee Savai’inaea the vice-captain. Dhys Faleafaga is the captain of the 15s team. Dhys’ sister, Lyric recently joined the Black Ferns Sevens teams in Japan as a travelling reserve.
Year 12 student Cheyne is the team’s first five-eighth and goal-kicker in 15s and halfback and playmaker in 7s. She’s a naturally gifted attacking player with pace and vision, while her kicking, both off the tee and in general play, is outstanding.
In last year’s Wellington Secondary Schoolgirls final against Aotea College, she set up no fewer than four tries directly through kicking (she also scored a try). Beauden Barrett emulated her feats recently for the Hurricanes against the Stormers.
Where did Cheyne learn to kick? “I started when I was 10 or 11 and it was my cousin that taught me the basics of kicking. Then I started practising with him and the thing that really stuck out for me with goal-kicking is the follow-through and to keep your head down.”
She puts her kicking in general play down to her understanding with her teammates. “Kicking during the game comes down to trust – I have heaps of trust in my girls, like Ana [wing Ainsleyana Puleiata] to be there at the right place and right time.”
Late last year seven of the St Mary’s players were selected as part of the WRFU Women’s 7s training squad. The players were Cheyne, Ana, Lyric, Dhys, Renee, Lomia Fa'amausili and Monica Tagoai (the only player in the group not still at school this year). Cheyne said training with the Wellington squad was invaluable. “Kat [NZ player Kat Whata-Simpkins] has helped me a lot, she has a great understanding of my position had gave me lots of tips that I can bring to the school team.”
A background in other sports has also helped considerably. As well as rugby, she also plays netball, athletics, tag and touch. She has previously represented New Zealand in U17 tag.
“I have played tag ever since I was little and have only recently been playing touch.” In athletics she’s been a sprinter, long jumper and shot putter and has played wing attack in netball.
In fact, much of the St Mary’s team has a background in other sports. Four girls in the side play volleyball, four play touch and Renee and Ana are both in the NZSS netball squad.
In a short space of time, rugby has blossomed at St Mary’s College. In little over two years, the sport has taken off to the point where St Mary’s will be fielding three teams this year, their First XV and two 10-a-side teams. The school is hoping to send a team to the Condor U15s team later this year along with their senior team returning to defend the title.
The St Mary’s College team that won the Sanix 7s in Japan was:
Olivia Aunoa, Cheyne Copeland, Lomia Fa’amausili, Dhys Faleafaga, Lyric Faleafaga, Janaya Lau-Young, Ainsleyana Puleiata, Damaris Samani, Ivana Samani, Renee Savai’inaea, Laina Semu, Katalina Tai
SMC vs Hong Kong Sports School (27-5)
SMC vs Kokugakuin University Tochigi High School (31-20)
SMC vs Fukuoka Ladies Rugby Football Club (31-5)
SMC vs Hartpury College (24-10)
SMC vs Kokugakuin University Tochigi High School (26-22)
NZ Rugby Union is kicking into gear with the development of the female game in New Zealand. Today the Black Ferns Development squad has been announced along with the NZ University training squad.
In less than a month the very first U17/U18 girls training squad will be announced.
Naming squads is one thing, but it is the work that is happening behind the scenes with camps, talent ID and meaningful competition that needs to be acknowledged. Now with formal squads being selected, there is a real pathway in NZ for female rugby players ... The two squads announced today are:
2017/18 Black Ferns Sevens Development Team
1. Natahlia Moors - Auckland
2. Kendra Reynolds - Bay of Plenty
3. Rebecca Kersten - Bay of Plenty
4. Sam Curtis - Canterbury
5. Rhiarna Ferris - Manawatu
6. Jess Drummond - Tasman
7. Dani Paenga - Waikato
8. Huia Harding - Waikato
9. Leanna Ryan - Waikato
10. Tayla Reti - Wellington
New Zealand University Training Squad
1. Claudia Colenso - Bay of Plenty
2. Cassandra Engler - Canterbury
3. Olivia McGoverne - Canterbury
4. Rebecca Davidson - Canterbury
5. Pia Tapsell - North Harbour
6. Claudia Hanham - North Harbour
7. Mikayla Latta - Otago
8. Sam Hollows - Otago
9. Emma Hopcroft - Otago
10. Lacy Tomu - Waikato
11. Bailey Te Maipi - Wellington
12. Monica Tagoai - Wellington
13. Montana Heslop - Wellington
14. Rina Paraone - Waikato
The chant ‘Waisake Naholo’ set the tune of the White Stripes Seven Nation Army has became a popular chat in New Zealand rugby and popular culture.
The name Kini Naholo (Waisake’s brother) could be added to the cry shortly if the Hastings Boys’ High School winger continues his dazzling form in 2017.
Naholo has scored 19 tries in the first seven matches of the season. He scored three tries against Kelston Boys’ High School, Wellington College, King’s College and Mount Albert Grammar School and doubled that tally with six in the first half against St. Pats Town on Saturday.
The only side to prevent Naholo from scoring a try thus far is St. Kentigern College, but they were beaten 15-5 as Hastings maintained their faultless start to the season.
Naholo is modest about his fast scoring start.
“It’s all about the team. The coaches are good. They teach us a good game plan and the benefits of working together.”
Naholo is from Sigatoka, Fiji and attended Cuvu College. The son of Pastor Aporosa Naholo, he migrated to New Zealand last year where he made an immediate impact. He helped Hastings to a second placed finish in the Second XV Super 8, their best result in the history of the competition.
Additionally he scored crucial tries for the First XV against Hamilton Boys’ High School, Wellington College and Napier Boys’ High School and scored three tries in the final of the Hurricanes Sevens against St. Pats Town in Palmerston North last year.
“New Zealand rugby has more structure. In Fiji it’s a bit individual. It’s been challenging here, but I am learning a lot.” Naholo states.
Hastings travel to Wellington to play Rongotai College in the last game of the Tranzit Coachlines First XV festival on Saturday before facing Lindisfarne College on May 27 and starting their defence of the Super 8 title against Palmerston North Boys’ High School on June 3. Naholo warns Hastings can improve. They beat St Pats Town 106-7!
“We didn’t play so well against St. Kent’s. We have lots to work on.”
Professional rugby teams are keen to work with Naholo. Already Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki have attempted to snaffle his services in 2018. Naholo is undecided about where he is heading just yet.
“I want to concentrate on school. If rugby doesn’t work out I want to become a PE teacher.”
Another brother Meli was in the First XV at New Plymouth Boys’ High School recently.
It’s unclear what the record for most tries in a single season of First XV rugby is, but there have been plenty of noteworthy finishers over the years. All Black wing Grant Batty scored 61 tries in 20 games for Kuranui College in 1969. He scored 112 tries in three seasons overall. John Timu scored 52 tries in 19 games for Lindisfarne College in 1987 and bagged 92 tries in 55 games. Chris Finch scored 46 tries for Otago Boys’ High School in 1992. In recent times Wellington Lions wing Malo Tuitama scored 60 tries in 37 games for Scots College. At Hastings Boys’ High School Luke Crombie had the unique distinction of scoring a try in every Super 8 game when Hastings won the title in 2004.
Sprinting, scoring tries and somersaulting spectacularly at formal dinners, Ryan Barnes from Christchurch Boys’ High School enjoys doing things quickly.
The Year 12 student is one of the key players in his First XV and is ranked in the top five sprinters at under-19 level in New Zealand.
Up until two years ago Barnes only occasionally dabbled in athletics, but surprised himself with rapid improvements under the guidance of former Commonwealth Games sprinter Beverley Peterson.
“I’ve always been fairly quick, but I didn’t take sprinting seriously until Beverley started coaching me. She has taught me so much about preparation and technique,” Barnes reflects.
Barnes attended his first National Track and Field championships two years ago and only managed to reach the quarter finals of the 100m. In 2016 his result suggested he is a talent to watch.
“I was the youngest competitor in the senior 100m final and finished seventh. I was pretty pleased with that result given I have two more years.” Barnes recalls.
Barnes has a PB of 11.20s in the 100m and 23.20s in the 200m. At the 2017 South Island championships he was second in the 100m trailing “a year 14 from Waitaki Boys.'”
Last winter Barnes made similarly rapid progress in rugby. Harbouring little hope of making the First XV, Barnes practically played the entire season and scored two tries in the historical Christ’s College fixture.
“The college match is such a big occasion. The atmosphere is so great you can hardly hear yourself think. We went in as the underdogs on Upper Field, but the support of our school was awesome and really got us pumped. The first try I scored was just a case of being in the right place at the right time. I was ecstatic after the second one.” Barnes enthuses.
Barnes derived even greater satisfaction from winning the UC Championship final 21-20 against Shirley Boys’ High School at Rugby Park.
“I started on the wing in the final, but had to switch to fullback after ten minutes. The atmosphere was similar to the College match. I was subbed with 10 minutes to go, which I had mixed feelings about. I was so nervous watching the rest of the game from the touchline, but it was just the best feeling to win.” Barnes says.
Christchurch are favourites to retain the UC Championship in 2017 and have gone 17 games (two this year) unbeaten in the tourney. However this season hasn’t all been plain sailing. At the St. Paul’s Collegiate First XV festival, Christchurch were thumped 46-6 by St. Kentigern College.
“Even though we led that game 6-5 at halftime I personally felt we were just weathering the storm. Playing St Kent’s was a huge challenge for us. We are not used to that physicality in the South Island.” Barnes admits.
However the benefits of the camp far outweighed the heavy loss.
“Having five days away was great for building team culture. We learned a lot from interacting with other teams and listening to coaches like Wayne Smith too.” Barnes believes.
At the official tournament dinner Barnes stunned the crowd with his somersaulting during the fashion parade. Each school had to design a wearable arts costume and parade it on a catwalk.
“That was a lot of fun. I like to express myself.” Barnes laughs.
Barnes was named Mr Junior at the 2015 Kaiteriteri Carnival, something he neglected to tell this humble correspondent.
Christchurch will be hoping Barnes’ style shines through when they travel to Timaru Boys’ High School next Tuesday for an early season top of the table clash.
“Timaru are a good side. They have some big boys and a lot of returning players. They gave Shirley a bit of a hiding on Saturday. We will have to be at our best to beat them.” Barnes stresses.
Barnes identifies halfback Louie Chapman and hooker Adam Reid as two players to watch closely in the Christchurch team this year. Barnes laughs his favourite subject is classics because coach Mike Dury takes the class.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has named its squad for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Georgia, to be held from 25 May to 18 June.
New Zealand has won the annual tournament on five occasions, with their last victory in 2015.
The team is:
Asafo Aumua - Wellington
Sam Caird - Waikato
Adrian Choat - Auckland
Tom Christie - Canterbury
Ryan Coxon - Waikato
Tim Farrell - Hawke’s Bay
Alex Fidow - Wellington
Luke Jacobson (C) - Waikato
Ezekiel Lindenmuth - Auckland
Marino Mikaele-Tuu - Hawke’s Bay
Dalton Papalii - Auckland
Jacob Pierce - Auckland
John (JP) Sauni - Auckland
Samuel Slade - Auckland
Pouri Rakete-Stones - Hawke’s Bay
Isaia Walker-Leawere - Wellington
Caleb Clarke - Auckland
Ereatara Enari (VC) - Canterbury
Braydon Ennor - Canterbury
Tima Faingaanuku - Tasman
Tiaan Falcon - Hawke’s Bay
Will Jordan - Tasman
Kemara Hauiti-Parapara - Wellington
Orbyn Leger - Counties Manukau
Josh McKay - Canterbury
Jona Nareki - Otago
Tamati Tua - Northland
Thomas Umaga-Jensen - Wellington
Players unavailable for selection:
Jordie Barrett Taranaki
Stephen Perofeta Taranaki
Peter Umaga-Jensen Wellington
New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Craig Philpott said it was a difficult task to whittle the squad down to the 28 players that will go to Georgia.
“All 32 players we took on the successful Oceania Tournament campaign last week put their hands up for World Championship selection, and all merited the opportunity to wear the black jersey in Georgia. We had to make some tough calls and no doubt there will be some disappointed players.
“The squad has a good base of experience with seven players returning from last year’s Under 20 World Championship in Manchester. However, we also want to learn the lessons from the last World Championship and in particular ensure that we are competitive in the forwards against the big northern hemisphere teams.
“There is a lot to be happy with from our win in the Oceania Tournament. We focused on a handful of important aspects of our game, especially defence, and were proud of the fact we conceded only two tries in the tournament. With more time together we will hone in on our scrummaging which will no doubt be a decisive area of the games in Georgia.
“We also want to play our natural high tempo game and provide our backs plenty of space and opportunity to run. We scored a lot of tries on the Gold Coast, and our focus now is on ensuring we play with both speed and accuracy.
“At the World Championship we are focusing one game at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves. The nature of the draw means we need to ensure we come out top of our pool to guarantee a place in the play offs, and with games against Scotland, Italy and Ireland that is no small task.
“We can’t afford to lose concentration and our goal is to play world class rugby in every game.”
The New Zealand Under 20 team assembles in Mount Maunganui later this week and travels to Georgia on 24 May. Their pool matches are against Scotland on the 31 May, Italy on 4 June and Ireland on 8 June.
New Zealand: 43 (Luke Jacobson 2, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Will Jordon, Tamati Tua, Tom Christie; Tiaan Falcon 5 con, pen) Australia: 6 (Harry Nucifora 2 pen) New Zealand have successfully retained the Oceania Under 20-Championship trouncing a woeful Australia 43-6 at Bond University on the Gold Coast. Australian rugby is stuck in a deep mire.
The hosts hardly fired a shot against a New Zealand team who bombed at least two tries with poor handling and played raggedly in the final quarter. Halfback Harry Nucifora opened Australia's account with an early penalty, but the New Zealand forwards soon gained the ascendancy and blindside Luke Jacobson and lock Isaia Walker-Leawere bullied their way over for converted tries to make it 17-6 after 20 minutes.
Nucifora doubled Australia's tally with a second penalty, but further tries to fullback Will Jordon and centre Tamati Tua had New Zealand 29-6 ahead at halftime. Jordon's try where he stepped rapidly off the left foot and dashed 30-metres into vacant pasture was particularly impressive.
Tima Faingaanuku showed he to boasts a quality left-foot delicately chipping ahead for openside Tom Christie to collect New Zealand's fifth try. Industrious captain Jacobson had the last say when he stretched out in the grasp of an Australian tackle.
New Zealand scored 186 points in three games suggesting the quality of the competition in Oceania is weaker than previous years, but also hinting they have strong prospects at the World Championships in June. Jordon was arguably the man of the match though Jacobson might dispute that claim.
New Zealand will be looking to retain their Oceania Under 20 title when they play Australia in the final match of the tournament on Saturday, May 6 at 9pm NZT. Both teams enter the final unbeaten, with New Zealand ushering in 11 changes to the team that beat Samoa 80-23 on Tuesday. Four players will get their first start in the tournament.
The team is:
1.Ezekiel Lindenmuth Auckland
3.Pouri Rakete-StonesHawke’s Bay
5.Sam Caird Waikato
7.Tom Christie Canterbury
8.Luke Jacobson (C)Waikato
9.Ereatara Enari (VC)Canterbury
10.Tiaan Falcon Hawke’s Bay
12.Orbyn Leger Counties Manukau
13.Tamati Tua Northland
18.Alex Fidow Wellington
20.Marino Mikaele-Tu'uHawke’s Bay
23.Caleb Clarke Auckland
Carlos Price (ankle) and Brayden Ennor (knee) were not considered due to injury.
Head Coach Craig Philpott said the outcome of the match will determine the winner of the tournament.
“Both sides enter the final unbeaten and we always have a lot of respect for Australian teams. Australia have been impressive at set piece time, scoring plenty of tries through their lineout drives and off the back of a powerful scrum. Our boys are particularly looking forward to the challenge up front.”
The game is also the last opportunity for players to impress selectors prior to the naming of the squad for the World Rugby Under 20 World Championship in Georgia next week.
“After two solid performances against Fiji and Samoa, we have selected a side to play Australia that in some cases is based on form, and in others on giving those returning from injury a final opportunity to press their claim for selection.
“Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Isaia Walker-Leawere and Ereatara Enari earn their first starts of the Oceania tournament and will no doubt be keen to make an impact.
“Captain Luke Jacobson will be joined in the loose trio by Dalton Papalii and Tom Christie. All three players have big engines and are smart rugby players, both on attack and in defence.
“The back three combination of Will Jordan, Josh McKay and Tima Faingaanuku brings a good mix of speed and power, with Caleb Clarke adding punch from the bench in the second half.
“We are looking forward to a great encounter against our traditional rival. It promises to be a great game of rugby with both the tournament outcome and World Championship selections on the line.”
Schedule for Oceania Under 20 Tournament:
Saturday 6 May v Australia, 9.00pm NZT