New Zealand Under 20 squad named     05 Apr 2009    

The New Zealand Under 20 squad is: Trent Boswell-Wakefield (Hawke’s Bay), Hamish Cochrane (Tasman), Aaron Cruden (Manawatu), Elliot Dixon (Canterbury), Shahn Eru (Wellington), Daniel Faleafa (Auckland), Ma’afu Fia (Manawatu), Zac Guildford (Hawke’s Bay), Bernie Hall (Canterbury), Willie Ioane (Manawatu), Brayden Mitchell (Southland), Brendon O’Connor (Canterbury), Ken Pisi (North Harbour), Buxton Popoali’i (Wellington), Leighton Price (Hawke’s Bay), Robbie Robinson (Southland), Alex Ryan (Southland), Teddy Stanaway (Auckland), Winston Stanley (Auckland), Latu Talakai (Waikato), Shae Tamati (Hawke’s Bay), Tom Taylor (Canterbury), Shaun Treeby (Wellington), Gauefa Tuigamala (North Harbour), Nafi Tuitavake (North Harbour), Frae Wilson (Wellington).

The 26-man squad includes current players from the Rebel Sport Super 14 and the Air New Zealand Cup, including Hurricanes player Zac Guildford and Blues player Winston Stanley. Air New Zealand Cup players include Southland’s Robbie Robinson Manawatu team-mates Aaron Cruden and Ma’afu Fia, North Harbour’s Nafi Tuitavake and Ken Pisi and Wellington’s Buxton Popoali’i.

Several of the players have rugby pedigree: Stanley is the nephew of former All Black Joe Stanley, Tuitavake is a current member of the New Zealand Sevens squad and younger brother of current All Blacks and Blues player Anthony Tuitavake, while Ken Pisi’s brother George and Tusi have played in the Rebel Sport Super 14.

New Zealand Under 20 Coach Dave Rennie said the squad had a huge amount of talent and he was excited to begin the road to the World Championship.

“I would like to congratulate all the players who have been selected in the squad for the Junior World Championships. It’s a thrilling time for these young men and their families and for many of them it will be the first time they pull on the black jersey so will be incredibly special.”

Rennie said he and assistant coach Mark Anscombe were “extremely happy” with the team.

“This is an exciting group of players who are keen to make an impression on the world stage.”

New Zealand’s age group teams have long been a springboard for many players into higher honours. All Blacks who have played age grade rugby in recent years include Jamie Mackintosh, Hikawera Elliot, Kieran Read and Alby Mathewson.

John Beckett, Marketing Manager of adidas New Zealand, says that a key component of adidas’ sponsorship is their support of the NZRU’s national teams.

“It is always exciting to see young new talent coming through. At adidas we are delighted to provide them with the same range of product technology as the All Blacks have developed and worn ahead of them,” said Beckett.

New Zealand were crowned inaugural champions at the first Junior World Championships held in Wales last year. The Junior World Championships replaced the previous IRB Under 19 and Under 21 World Championship tournaments.

The naming of the squad follows a trial game in Palmerston North yesterday. The squad will stay in camp till Monday and re-assemble twice before their departure to Japan.

New Zealand pool games at IRB Junior World Championship:

v Uruguay June 5
v Ireland June 9
v Argentina June 13

Key dates:

• Squad camp: Friday 3 April – Monday 6 April, Palmerston North
• Squad camp: Saturday 25 April – Wednesday 29 April, Palmerston North
• Pre-tournament camp: Tuesday 26 May – Friday 29 May, Auckland
• Squad departs: Auckland for Tokyo on Saturday 30 May
• IRB World Junior Championship: Friday 5 June – Sunday 21 June, Japan