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New Zealand Under 20 team named to play Wales

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New Zealand Under 20 team named to play Wales

The New Zealand team to face Wales on Thursday in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship 2016 in Salford, England, is as follows:

1. Ayden Johnstone
2. Leni Apisai (C)
3. Sosefo Kautai
4.nzu201 Quinten Strange
5. Hamish Dalzell
6. Fin Hoeata
7. Mitchell Jacobson
8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u
9. Sam Nock
10. TJ Va’a
11. Jordan Trainor
12. Jordie Barrett
13. Patelesio Tomkinson
14. Caleb Makene
15. Shaun Stevenson
Reserves:
16. Asafo Aumua
17. Sean Paranihi
18. Alex Fidow
19. Isaia Walker-Leawere
20. Luke Jacobson
21. Jonathan Taumateine
22. Stephen Perofeta
23. Jonah Lowe

Head Coach Scott Robertson, along with Assistant Coaches Craig Philpott and Willie Rickards, have kept faith with the majority of the side which has played the opening two games of the competition, despite the 24-33 loss to Ireland last time out. Lock Hamish Dalzell is promoted from the bench and Fin Hoeata is a new face on the blindside flank, but the rest of the pack remains unchanged. In the backline, there is another new combination in the back three, with Jordan Trainor switching to the left wing, Shaun Stevenson moving back in to the 15 jersey and Caleb Makene coming into the run-on side.

Robertson was understandably disappointed with the loss to a fired-up Irish team, but acknowledged that New Zealand were outplayed on the day. “It was a tough day. Ireland played well and we learnt lessons from that match. They put pressure on us at scrum time and kicked to the corners well. They played to the conditions and stayed strong for the full 80 minutes. These northern hemisphere sides play a different style of footy to us, so we must adjust to that.”

The game was played in conditions that were extremely testing at times, and Robertson hopes his young players learn from the experience. “The weather suited their style of play. We’ve got a young group of guys that like to play expansive rugby. We don’t want to stop that, but need to balance attack with playing to the conditions.”

This week’s opponents Wales have had a mixed tournament so far, with a narrow 25-26 loss to Ireland followed by an equally tight 10-9 victory over Georgia, but they won’t be underestimated. “Wales always step up. For a lot of these teams, when they play New Zealand, they play their best. So we are expecting Wales to come out firing. It is a knock out game. Lose and you miss out on the semi-finals. We have taken a lot of learnings from the Georgian and Irish games and are still in the hunt at this tournament.”

New Zealand need to win and win well if they are to have any chance of progressing to the semi-final stage, so the message from the coaching team to the players will be a simple one. “We have a chance to make the semi-finals – it’s in our hands now. Get out there, enjoy yourself and believe in our systems – from there the scoreboard takes care of itself.”

Live Broadcast
New Zealand v Wales will be broadcast live on SKY Sports 1 from 4.25am NZT.

New Zealand U20 playing schedule (local times):
Tuesday, 7 June (Wednesday 8 June, NZT)
New Zealand 55-0 Georgia
Saturday, 11 June (Sunday 12 June, NZT)
New Zealand 24-33 Ireland
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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