The road to the 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship starts in Palmerston North in December with 50 players selected to attend the first New Zealand Under 20 development camp.
New Zealand Under 20 Coach Craig Philpott will be joined by new Assistant Coaches Aaron Good and Derren Witcombe for the 2019 campaign.
Players selected to attend the camp from 3-8 December are:
|Naitoa Ah Kuoi||Wellington|
|Leroy Carter||Bay of Plenty|
|Devan Flanders||Hawkes Bay|
|Cole Forbes||Bay of Plenty|
|Jack Heighton||North Harbour|
|Kohan Herbert||Bay of Plenty|
|Kianu Kereru-Symes||Hawkes Bay|
|Lalomilo Lalomilo||Bay of Plenty|
|Iosefa Maloney-Fiaola||Bay of Plenty|
|Lincoln McClutchie||Hawkes Bay|
|Brad McNaughten||North Harbour|
|Dennon Robinson-Bartlett||Bay of Plenty|
|Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe||Hawkes Bay|
|Tane Te Aho||Wellington|
|Danny Toala||Hawkes Bay|
Players unavailable for selection due to Super Rugby and Sevens committments: Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau), Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty), Leicester Faingaanuku (Tasman), Billy Proctor (Wellington), Caleb Clarke (Auckland), Scott Gregory (Northland) and Jeriah Mua (Bay of Plenty)
The 50 players have been selected from Mitre 10 Cup, the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 tournament and New Zealand Secondary Schools team,
Philpott congratulated those players selected and said the programme continues to unearth and develop top rugby talent.
“The New Zealand Under 20 programme is a proven stepping stone towards a professional rugby career. From this year’s squad, 26 of the 28 players have gone on to represent their provinces in the Mitre 10 Cup, and it was only last year that new All Black Dalton Papali’i was in this environment.
“While there are 10 players from this year’s Under 20 team who are eligible for selection again, there is genuine depth and competition in every position.
“We want to see players preparing professionally and displaying their competitive edge so that this team’s legacy of developing the future of Mitre 10 Cup, Investec Super Rugby and the All Blacks continues,” said Philpott.
New Assistant Coaches Aaron Good and Derren Witcombe bring experience as former players and current Mitre 10 Cup coaches to the management team.
Good is no stranger to the Under 20 programme, having been a position specific coach for the team previously; he is currently the Manawatu Turbos assistant coach. Former All Black Derren Witcombe has coached the Northland Taniwha Mitre 10 Cup team for the past two seasons.
Waikato Strength and Conditioning Trainer Tim Hurst also joins the management team, while Bay of Plenty Assistant Coach David Hill will run the attack in his second year with the team.
“Aaron and Derren are great additions to our coaching team. They have experience in bringing the best out of young players and we look forward to having them in our environment and developing the talent that we have.”
After December’s camp players will return to their provincial unions with many set to be involved with Super Rugby development or age grade programmes.
Players will reassemble in March before a squad of up to 32 players will be selected to play in the Oceania Championship in Australia in April.
The final squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship, to be played in Argentina, will be named in May.