The New Zealand team to face Ireland on Sunday in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship 2016 in Manchester, England, is as follows:
1. Ayden Johnstone
2. Leni Apisai (C)
3. Sosefo Kautai
4. Quinten Strange
5. Isaia Walker-Leawere
6. Luke Jacobson
7. Mitchell Jacobson
8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u
9. Sam Nock
10. Stephen Perofeta
11. Malo Tuitama
12. Jordie Barrett
13. Patelesio Tomkinson
14. Shaun Stevenson
15. Jordan Trainor
16. Asafo Aumua
17. Sean Paranihi
18. Alex Fidow
19. Hamish Dalzell
20. Dalton Papali’i
21. Jonathan Taumateine
22. TJ Va’a
23. Jonah Lowe
Head Coach Scott Robertson, along with Assistant Coaches Craig Philpott and Willie Rickards, have named a team with just three new faces from the selection which defeated Georgia in their opening game. The forward pack, which competed well with the powerful Georgians in the 55-0 victory, remains unchanged. “We haven’t got too much time to make too many changes as a group,” Robertson explained.
“There’s got to be subtle moves and slights tweaks to structures, but you have to have some rotation, you can’t play five games in a row because of the fatigue factor.”
He was pleased with the initial hit-out against a Georgian team making their debut appearance at this level, with his side running in nine tries, including seven from the backline.
“It was very successful and a really satisfying performance from a lot of points. We got through unscathed and we trusted our systems. The boys kept their attention. We had a couple of scrum resets, but it was everything we hoped to get out of the game.
“Performance-wise obviously Mitch Jacobson stood out. He played the whole game and got man of the match and it was probably the strongest performance he’s had in three years he’s been playing under 20s.
“Sam Nock also showed his class, and why he’s a Super Rugby player, he just needs game time. I was very pleased with his leadership and his pass. Shaun Stevenson and Jordie Barrett had strong games as well.”
Nock retains his place in the nine jersey, and will form a new combination with Stephen Perofeta at first-five, replacing TJ Va’a who drops to the bench. Stevenson switches from full back to the right wing to accommodate Jordan Trainor’s first appearance, while Malo Tuitama completes the back three after coming on as a replacement and touching down in the opening game.
Robertson was impressed with the contribution from his bench against Georgia and will be looking for more of the same against the Irish.
“The impact off the bench is the strength of the squad: we talk about 23s not 15s. When you name a side, it’s how you create a group when you play 80 minutes, the strength and power of the boys who played off the bench just created a little bit more. When the rain set in it became pretty torrential very quickly, but they finished the game well for us. We got a result, we rolled the bench with 20 minutes to go and we had plenty of subs left. That was part of the plan, so we kept the guys fresh for the next four games.”
He is expecting another tough challenge against an Ireland side who squeaked home 26-25 against their Celtic cousins Wales in the first round. “Any Irish side is strong and passionate. All the Six Nations squads are really strong, especially around set piece, and there are some really good boys who will be a real challenge for us.
“We know their strengths around their line out and getting down to our end of the field and putting pressure on us, so we need to mitigate this as much as we can, trust our defensive system, minimise our penalties and when we get the ball we hold on to it.”
New Zealand v Ireland will be broadcast live on SKY Sports 1 from 12.20am NZT.
New Zealand U20 playing schedule (local times):
Tuesday, 7 June (Wednesday 8 June, NZT)
New Zealand 55-0 Georgia
Saturday, 11 June 1.30pm (Sunday 12 June, 12.30am NZT) v Ireland, Manchester City Academy, Manchester
Wednesday, 15 June 5.30pm (Thursday 16 June, 4.30am NZT) v Wales, AJ Bell Stadium, Salford
Semi-finals will be played on 20 June ahead of the 25 June final.
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