New Zealand Under 21 team named to play Canada

Photosport     20 Jun 2007     Photosport

The Canadians, fresh from their spirited performance against the All Blacks in Hamilton on Saturday, play New Zealand’s up and coming rugby players at Rotorua International Stadium. The game kicks off at 7.05pm and will be televised live on Sky Sport 1 and the Rugby Channel.

The New Zealand Under 21 side features three Rebel Sport Super 14 players – Tim Bateman (Crusaders), Lelia Masaga (Chiefs) and George Pisi (Blues) – as well as several other players who have represented the country at age grade level, including former New Zealand Under 19 captain George Whitelock, who will also lead the team on Thursday.

Cooper said the team was excited about the challenge.

“We had an outstanding four-day development camp in Auckland last week, focusing on one-on-one specialist skills coaching and team sessions aimed at improving our basic skills,” Cooper said.

“The match represents a fantastic opportunity for these young individuals to play against international opposition. Canada will want to leave New Zealand on a winning note but we will be as equally determined to do well in front of our home crowd,” he added.

Injury has ruled out four players originally selected in the squad last month.

Auckland halfback Brenton Helleur and Canterbury wing James Paterson both have knee injuries. Helleur has been replaced by John Legg of Canterbury and Paterson by Lance MacDonald of Bay of Plenty.

Former New Zealand Under 19 captain Victor Vito of Wellington has also been sidelined with shoulder injury and has been replaced by Taranaki loose forward Chris Walker while Nick Croswell of Manawatu also suffered a shoulder injury and his place is taken by Taranaki lock Leon Power.

Tickets for Thursday’s game can be purchased from the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union’s offices at Mt Maunganui and the Rotorua Convention Centre on Fenton Street, Rotorua, or online from Ticketdirect at Prices start at $10 while entry is free for children under the age of 14.

The curtain-raiser to the international is between a Waikato XV and the Bay of Plenty Wasps, starting at 4.45pm.

New Zealand Under 21 team to play Canada: 1. Sekope Kepu (Counties Manukau), 2. Dane Coles (Wellington), 3. Charlie Faumuina (Auckland), 4. Josh Bekhuis (Southland), 5. James Broadhurst (Canterbury), 6. Faifili Levave (Wellington), 7. George Whitelock (Otago, captain), 8. Chris Lowrey (Auckland), 9. David Bason (Waikato), 10. Colin Slade (Canterbury), 11. Lance MacDonald (Bay of Plenty), 12. Daniel Bowden (Northland), 13. Tim Bateman (Canterbury), 14. Lelia Masaga (Counties Manukau), 15. George Pisi (North Harbour).

Reserves: 16. Vern Kamo (Waikato), 17. Owen Franks (Canterbury), 18. Leon Power (Taranaki), 19. Tom Chamberlain (North Harbour), 20. John Legg (Canterbury), 21. Lachie Munro (Auckland), 22. Ben Smith (Otago).