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Black jersey beckons for Under 20 talent

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:

Name Provincial Union
Naitoa Ah Kuoi Wellington
Iona Apineru Wellington
Kaylum Boshier Taranaki
Finlay Brewis Canterbury
Fergus Burke Canterbury
Leroy Carter Bay of Plenty
Robert Cobb Auckland
Sam Cooper Waikato
Samuel Dickson Otago
Luke Donaldson Canterbury
George Dyer Waikato
Lesinali Faleafa Auckland
Chay Fihaki Auckland
Samipeni Finau Waikato
Devan Flanders Hawkes Bay
Cole Forbes Bay of Plenty
Taufa Funaki Auckland
Connor Garden-Bachop Canterbury
Samuel Gilbert Canterbury
Cullen Grace Canterbury
Jack Gray Auckland
Callum Harkin Wellington
Jack Heighton North Harbour
Kohan Herbert Bay of Plenty
Shamus Hurley-Langton Wellington
Kianu Kereru-Symes Hawkes Bay
Awatere Kiwara Manawatu
Shilo Klein Canterbury
Lalomilo Lalomilo Bay of Plenty
Michael Loft Taranaki
Iosefa Maloney-Fiaola Bay of Plenty
Lincoln McClutchie Hawkes Bay
Dallas McLeod Canterbury
Brad McNaughten North Harbour
Fletcher Newell Canterbury
Oliver Norris Waikato
Simon Parker Waikato
Taine Plumtree Wellington
Isaiah Punivai Canterbury
Rivez Reihana Auckland
Dennon Robinson-Bartlett Bay of Plenty
Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe Hawkes Bay
Tane Te Aho Wellington
James Thompson Waikato
Danny Toala Hawkes Bay
Quinn Tupaea Waikato
Kaliopasi Uluilakepa Wellington
Reuben Va’a Wellington
Tupou Vaa’i Taranaki
Tamaiti Williams Canterbury

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.

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