The squad to represent New Zealand at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Manchester, England next month, has been named.
The squad was revealed in a video interview with Head Coach Scott Robertson.
The New Zealand Under 20 squad is:
|Leni Apisai, captain||Wellington/Hurricanes|
|Lock /Loose Forward|
|Marino Mikaele Tu’u||Hawke’s Bay|
|Hapakuki Moala-Liava’a||North Harbour|
|Jonathan Taumateine||Counties Manukau|
|Orbyn Leger||Counties Manukau|
|Jonah Lowe||Hawke’s Bay|
Robertson said the coaching team was confident their squad offered skill sets and versatility that provided both experience and fresh fire power.
“We’ve got six players from Super Rugby teams, two guys returning from last year’s team, and we have nine players young enough to be eligible to play again next year. It’s a good balance – a little bit of experience, youth and exuberance from the young fellas, and the professionalism from the Super players.”
Loose forward Mitchell Jacobson returns for a remarkable third year with the Under 20 campaign, and this year he is joined by his younger brother and fellow loose forward, Luke.
Proving that rugby genes run strong in the family, Jordie Barrett, younger brother of All Black Beauden Barrett, and Fin Hoeata, brother of former All Black and Maori All Black Jarrad Hoeata, are also set to travel to Manchester.
Also named is 2015 Age Grade Player of the Year nominee Alex Fidow of Wellington, who last year won the New Zealand Schools Bronze Boot award, and Heartland Player of the Year nominee Stephen Perofeta who, while still at Wanganui Collegiate as a Year 13 student last year, was a key weapon in Wanganui’s road to Meads Cup victory in the Heartland Championship last year. Perofeta was selected for the New Zealand Heartland XV squad and went on to run up 58 points in just three matches.
Robertson expects competition to be fierce at the World Championship with England likely to again be strong with their Premiership players available, and Australia also providing stiff competition with the availability of Super Rugby players.
“We’re in a tough pool. We’ve got Wales who won the Six Nations and Ireland who performed really well. We’ve also got Georgia – they’re new to the competition, after they won the tier two competition to come up and we know they love to scrum and maul and they are big men as well.
“We’re excited by the challenge of going back on the world stage, and we’ve got an attitude that we’ve got to go and win the title, not just defend it. We’re really pleased with the squad we have named today, and we have faith that they can step up to the challenge,” Robertson said.
The New Zealand Under 20 squad assembles in Mt Maunganui on 27 May ahead of a game against the Chiefs Development side on Monday 30 May.
A separate media advisory with training and media windows will be distributed closer to the time.
The World Rugby Under 20 Championship kicks off on 7 June with the Final to be played on 25 June 2016.
World Rugby Under 20 Championship
New Zealand Under 20 match schedule (local times)
Pool A Matches
Tuesday 7 June
New Zealand v Georgia
AJ Bel Stadium, Salford
Saturday 11 June
New Zealand v Ireland
Manchester City Academy Stadium, Manchester
Wednesday 15 June
New Zealand v Wales
AJ Bel Stadium, Salford
Semifinal playoffs will be played on 20 June ahead of the 25 June Final.ac