Newly appointed New Zealand Under 20 coach Tom Donnelly will cast his eye over New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) next generation of stars in Taupo next week during the second edition of the Bunnings Warehouse Super Rugby Under-20 tournament.
The tournament will run from May 22-28 at Owen Delany Park where the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders will be joined by a New Zealand Barbarians selection for three match days, all broadcast live and exclusive on Sky.
Watching on will be former Highlanders lock Donnelly who will guide the team during three matches against Australia, Fiji, and Argentina this July. They will be assessing the form of 162 talented players across six, 27-man squads in Taupo.
Donnelly said it was an honour to be coaching the New Zealand Under 20 team:
“For many of these players they are on the cusp of a professional career, whether that’s playing DHL Super Rugby Pacific or, for some, taking another step toward their ultimate goal of representing the All Blacks. It’s a special time for these players and for us as coaches.
“There is an incredible pool of talent out there in Aotearoa and I look forward to seeing them put their best foot forward in Taupo.”
NZR High Performance Player Development Manager Matt Sexton said the tournament was a vital part of NZR’s player pathway.
“This week will expose players, coaches and managers to a high-performance environment and has been designed to accelerate their development on and off the field. We have seen that with 16 players from last year’s tournament taking the field during the 2022 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.
“It is also a key week for Tom and his selectors to identify players for their New Zealand Under 20s squad and we are delighted to have the Barbarians involved again during what we expect will be an intense, entertaining and competitive week of rugby.”
The Barbarians will be coached by former Manu Samoa and current North Harbour Bunnings NPC coach Steve Jackson with assistance from Mark Hooper and Kenny Addison.
New Zealand Barbarian Rugby Club President Bernie Allen said:
“With our selections we are again pleased to provide a great opportunity for players on the fringe of higher honours to show their skills and push their claims for the NZ U20’s. It is pleasing that we have some Heartland players involved which accords with a key aim of the Barbarians, which is to help grow grassroots rugby. The team is under a strong coaching squad led by Steve Jackson who has Super Rugby and International coaching experience. I am sure it will be a memorable week for all involved.”
The New Zealand Bunnings Warehouse Super Rugby Under 20 Draw is:
Sunday 22 May: 11:00am Blues v Hurricanes;1:00pm Barbarians v Highlanders; 3:00pm Chiefs v Crusaders
Wednesday 25 May: 11:00am Barbarians v Crusaders; 1:00pm Chiefs v Hurricanes; 3:00pm Blues v Highlanders
Saturday 28 May:11:00am Blues v Crusaders; 1:00pm Barbarians v Hurricanes; 3:00pm Chiefs v Highlanders