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.
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