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Heartland team named for Jock Hobbs Memorial Under 19 Tournament

allblacks.com     30 Aug 2018    

The tournament is a key calendar event for New Zealand’s emerging young rugby talent and will kick off at Owen Delany Park in Taupo on Sunday 9 September and will once again feature a combined team selected from Heartland Championship provinces.

Horowhenua Kapiti’s Aleni Feagaiga takes up the reigns as Head Coach of the Heartland team for the first time and has selected representatives from each of the Heartland Unions.

Feagaiga said having a Heartland team  encouraged young players to stay involved in the game beyond college, and aspire to be part of the tournament, while giving them a real opportunities to develop their game. There are four players who currently play in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship included in the squad (Connor Paki - Horowhenua Kapiti, Kafaongo Katoa - North Otago, Te Huia Kutia - Thames Valley and Jeramiah Mapusua - Wairarapa Bush).

“It’s great that these guys can remain playing for their Heartland Union, but also be involved in a national set-up where they can stick their hand up for the New Zealand U20s team,” said Feagaiga.

“This is a very exciting time and a great honour for these young men to represent their provinces. With every Heartland Union represented there are challenges as we arrive in Taupo on Thursday and  only have a couple of training runs before we play our first game.  Most of the other teams have been together for at least six weeks and have played half a dozen games.

The tournament takes place on 9, 12 and 15 September and is part of a week-long event that sees the teams assemble on 8 September and includes development programmes for the players, parents, coaches and referees which is run on the non-game days. There are position specific workshops with Super Rugby coaches, as well as sessions focusing on player education and life skills.

Previous tournaments have seen players going on to represent New Zealand at World Rugby’s Under 20 Championship, others onto Mitre 10 Cup and Investec Super Rugby contracts, or the highest honour of them all, playing for the All Blacks.

2018 New Zealand Heartland Under 19 Squad

Forwards
Austin Brear - Thames Valley
Zachary Gregory - Thames Valley
Kafaongo Katoa - North Otago
Te Huia Kutia - Thames Valley
Ioelu Leo - Mid Canterbury
Jake Lochore - King Country
Jeramiah Mapusua - Wairarapa Bush
Matt Masoe - Wairarapa Bush
Jason Myers - Wanganui
Moses Pearce - Horowhenua Kapiti
Xavier Pereka - Horowhenua Kapiti
Hamish Prattley - South Canterbury
Baxter Richards - Thames Valley
Bray Ward - Thames Valley

Backs
Bryan Arnold - Wairarapa Bush
Isaac Bracewell - Wairarapa Bush
Joseph Gordon - Wairarapa Bush
Joel Hands  - Buller
Max Linklater - West Coast
Caleb McNoe - South Canterbury
Connor Paki - Horowhenuna Kapiti
Sean Pape - Horowhenua Kapiti
Niao Savage - East Coast
Winiata Tarawa - Poverty Bay
Desmond Tyrell - Wanganui

Tournament details

A total 400 players from 16 teams will compete – one team from each of the Mitre 10 Cup Provincial Unions, one Auckland development team and one Heartland Unions combined team. Regional seeding tournaments kicked off across the four regions on 18 August, with tournament rankings to be decided on Saturday 1 September after the last round of seeding matches. 
At the conclusion of the seeding matches, the teams in each region will be ranked 1-4, with the top two ranked sides in each region going into the top eight of the tournament draw to play for the Graham Mourie Cup, and the third and fourth ranked teams, into the championship eight to contest the Michael Jones Trophy.

Auckland A and Counties Manukau go into the tournament as defending champions of the Graham Mourie Cup and Michael Jones Trophy respectively.

A selection of matches from the final day of the tournament will be screened live on Sky Sports.