NZ U20 sticking to winning formula
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: New Zealand Under-20 head coach Craig Philpott said it was a difficult task to whittle the squad down to the 28 players that will go to U20 World Championship in Georgia.
New Zealand has won the annual tournament on five occasions, with their last victory in 2015.
"All 32 players we took on the successful Oceania Tournament campaign last week put their hands up for World Championship selection, and all merited the opportunity to wear the black jersey in Georgia. We had to make some tough calls and no doubt there will be some disappointed players," Philpott said.
"The squad has a good base of experience with seven players returning from last year’s U20 World Championship in Manchester. However, we also want to learn the lessons from the last World Championship and in particular ensure that we are competitive in the forwards against the big northern hemisphere teams.
"There is a lot to be happy with from our win in the Oceania Tournament. We focused on a handful of important aspects of our game, especially defence, and were proud of the fact we conceded only two tries in the tournament. With more time together we will hone in on our scrummaging which will no doubt be a decisive area of the games in Georgia.
"We also want to play our natural high tempo game and provide our backs plenty of space and opportunity to run. We scored a lot of tries on the Gold Coast, and our focus now is on ensuring we play with both speed and accuracy.
"At the World Championship, we are focusing one game at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves. The nature of the draw means we need to ensure we come out on top of our pool to guarantee a place in the play-offs, and with games against Scotland, Italy and Ireland that is no small task.
"We can’t afford to lose concentration and our goal is to play world class rugby in every game,"
The New Zealand U20 team assembles in Mount Maunganui later this week and travels to Georgia on May 24. Their pool matches are against Scotland on the May 31, Italy on June 4and Ireland on June 8.
New Zealand Under-20 squad:
Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Sam Caird, Adrian Choat, Tom Christie, Ryan Coxon, Tim Farrell, Alex Fidow, Luke Jacobson (captain), Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Marino Mikaele-Tuu, Dalton Papalii, Jacob Pierce, John Sauni, Samuel Slade, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Isaia Walker-Leawere
Backs: Caleb Clarke, Ereatara Enari, Braydon Ennor, Tima Faingaanuku, Tiaan Falcon, Will Jordan , Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Orbyn Leger, Josh McKay, Jona Nareki, Tamati Tua, Thomas Umaga-Jensen