All Blacks U20 pump up with experience

Wed, 09 May 2018 09:04
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SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Fresh from victory at the Oceania Rugby U20 Championship, New Zealand Under-20 head coach Craig Philpott has named the squad that will travel to France to defend the World Rugby Championship later this month.

Philpott said he and his assistant coaches were presented with a tough job in selecting the squad of 28.

"We have been impressed with the quality of players that have been with us throughout our camps and at the Oceania Championships which meant it wasn’t easy to narrow this group down,"

Captain Tom Christie and Blues wing Caleb Clarke return from the champion 2017 team, while at the other end of the scale there are eight players who will be eligible for selection again next year.

Experience also comes in the form of 12 players who have played at Mitre 10 Cup level and 27 of the 28 players having been involved in an Oceania Championship campaign.

"We found that a key factor to our success in 2017 was continuity so it was important to see the bulk of this squad be involved in the Oceania campaign,"

Philpott said there are strengths right across the squad.

"Laghlan McWhannell was the standout lock at Oceania and he is complemented by the two-metre duo of Will Tucker and John Akau’ola Laula. Our captain, Tom Christie, leads an exciting loose forward trio that have been absolutely tireless in their efforts on the field.

"Vilimoni Koroi adds a point of difference in the back three alongside the genuine size and speed in the likes of Caleb Clarke and Leicester Faingaanuku, we are looking forward to seeing what they can create on the field.”

New Zealand is set to face Japan, Wales and Australia in a tough pool play assignment.

"Our focus will be very much on nailing our processes game by game and expecting the unexpected.

"Against Fiji at Oceania, we had to play 60 minutes with 14 men and that was a good test of our systems and mindset,"

New Zealand Under-20:

Forwards: John Akau'ola-Laula (Auckland), Sione Asi (Manawatu), Tom Christie (Captain - Canterbury), Rob Cobb (Auckland), Devan Flanders (Hawke's Bay), Tom Florence (Taranaki), Ricky Jackson (Otago), Tevita Mafileo (Bay of Plenty), Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato), Xavier Numia (Wellington), Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa (Auckland), Hoskins Sotutu (Auckland), Flynn Thomas (Southland), Will Tremain (Hawke's Bay), Will Tucker (Canterbury), Kaliopasi Uluilakepa (Wellington)

Backs: Caleb Clarke (Auckland), Leicester Faingaanuku (Tasman), Scott Gregory (Northland), Vilimoni Koroi (Otago), Harry Plummer (Auckland, Billy Proctor (Wellington), Jay Renton (Southland), Xavier Roe (Waikato, Jamie Spowart (Tasman), Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato), Tanielu Tele'a (Auckland), Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty)

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Fri, 01 June 2018
Highlanders v Hurricanes 07h35 Dunedin
Sat, 02 June 2018
Blues v Rebels 05h15 Eden Park
Chiefs v Crusaders 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Wales v South Africa 21h00 RFK Stadium
Sun, 03 June 2018
Brumbies v Sunwolves 06h05 Canberra
UNDER-20 WORLD CUP
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Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
England U20 3 3 0 0 14
Australia U20 3 2 0 1 10
Wales U20 3 1 0 2 6
Samoa U20 3 1 0 3 1
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand U20 3 3 0 0 15
Scotland U20 3 2 0 1 9
Italy U20 3 1 0 2 6
Ireland U20 3 0 0 3 2
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa U20 3 2 1 0 12
France U20 3 2 1 0 11
Argentina U20 3 1 0 2 6
Georgia U20 3 0 0 3 0