Junior All Blacks squad named

Getty Images     01 Jun 2009     Getty Images

The squad is:

Ryan Crotty - Canterbury
Israel Dagg - Hawke’s Bay
Aled de Malmanche - Waikato
Tom Donnelly - Otago
Jason Eaton - Taranaki
Hikawera Elliot - Hawke’s Bay
Jacob Ellison - Wellington
Tamati Ellison - Wellington
Bryn Evans - Hawke’s Bay
Ben Franks Tasman
Owen Franks - Canterbury
Robert Fruean - Wellington
Hosea Gear - Wellington
Sione Lauaki - Waikato
Karl Lowe - Hawke's Bay
Luke McAlister - North Harbour
Jamie Mackintosh - Southland
Lelia Masaga - Counties Manukau
Alby Mathewson - Wellington
Rene Ranger - Northland
Colin Slade - Canterbury
Chris Smylie - North Harbour
Jeremy Thrush - Wellington
Anthony Tuitavake - North Harbour
George Whitelock - Canterbury
Victor Vito - Wellington

Meanwhile, Hurricanes and Wellington prop John Schwalger and Chiefs and Taranaki lock Craig Clarke will assemble with the Junior All Blacks as cover for Bryn Evans and Owen Franks who are assembling with the All Blacks.

One feature of the squad is the inclusion of two sets of brothers: Owen Franks and older brother Ben and Jacob Ellison and older brother Tamati.

Junior All Blacks co-coach Colin Cooper said: “We have got a talented squad of established international players plus up and coming players and (fellow Junior All Blacks co-coach) Ian Foster and I are excited about the campaign ahead.”

“The Junior All Blacks have a proud unbeaten record in the Pacific Nations Cup and this year’s team will be keen to maintain that record,” he added.

As New Zealand’s second national team behind the All Blacks, the Junior All Blacks are a key part of the NZRU’s High Performance Plan. The team gives more New Zealand players experience of international rugby and prepares players in season to step up to the next level if injury or form forces changes to the All Blacks squad.

The Junior All Blacks will play alongside Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Japan in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup tournament, which takes place from 12 June to 3 July. The Junior All Blacks will play in one of the two opening round matches to be played in Samoa before the tournament moves to Fiji for a 17-day festival of international rugby spread across three match venues – the National Stadium (Suva), Churchill Park (Lautoka) and Lawaqa Park (Sigatoka).

The Junior All Blacks assemble in Auckland on 8 June and depart for Samoa on 11 June.

The Junior All Blacks matches in the IRB Pacific Nations tournament are as follows:

12 June v Samoa in Apia, 4.00pm
18 June v Fiji in Lautoka, 3.10pm
23 June v Japan in Lautoka, 3.10pm
2 July v Tonga in Suva, 3.10pm