NZ Under 20 squad named for World Champs in Italy

IRB     12 May 2015     IRB

The squad is:


Isileli Tu'ungafasi - Auckland - Prop
Tau Koloamatangi - Waikato - Prop
Aidan Ross - Bay of Plenty - Prop
Atunaisa Moli - Waikato - Prop
Liam Polwart - Auckland - Hooker
Steven Misa - Waikato - Hooker
Ricky Riccitelli - Hawke's Bay - Prop/Hooker
Mitchell Dunshea - Canterbury - Lock/Loose Forward
Geoffrey Cridge - Hawke's Bay -Lock 
Joshua Goodhue - Canterbury - Lock
James Blackwell - Wellington - Lock
Mitchell Jacobson - Waikato - Loose Forward
Blake Gibson - Auckland - Loose Forward
Mitchell Karpik - Auckland - Loose Forward
Akira Ioane - Auckland - Loose Forward
Henry Stowers Province - Wellington - Loose Forward


Harrison Levien* - Waikato - Halfback
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi - Taranaki - Halfback
Otere Black - Manawatu - First-five-eighth
Mitchell Hunt - Auckland - First-five-eighth
Tinoai (TJ) Faiane - Auckland - Midfield
Jack Goodhue - Canterbury - Midfield
Anton Lienert-Brown - Waikato - Midfield
Nathaniel Apa - Canterbury - Wing/Midfield
Tevita Li - North Harbour - Wing
Vincent Tavae-Aso - Auckland - Wing
George Bridge - Canterbury - Fullback
Luteru Laulala - Canterbury - Fullback

*indicates player eligible to play in 2016

Not available due to injury: Leni Apisai (Wellington and Hurricanes).

New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Scott Robertson and assistant coaches Leon MacDonald and Tana Umaga confirmed their final selections after winning all their matches at the Oceania Rugby Junior Championship in Australia last week.

The squad includes eight players from last year’s squad bringing invaluable tournament experience to the 2015 campaign. A total 10 players in the squad have also had either ITM Cup or Investec Super Rugby experience.

Scott Robertson said the Oceania tournament had been the perfect preparation for the World Championship.

“We really got to test our combinations and to put the boys under some pressure in both the tournament environment with short turn arounds between games, and the competition for positions,” he said.

They were now looking ahead to the World Championship in Italy.

“We’re excited to finally settle on our squad which we believe has the ability to perform at this tournament. We’ve think we've got the balance right between experience and talent to give us the best opportunity to do well.

“The World Rugby Under 20s is a unique opportunity for these boys to perform well on a world stage. ” he said.

Returning prop Atunaisa Moli continues his captaincy duties from the Oceania tournament.

“Atu Moli is a big strong 125k prop and it’s his second year. He’s a natural leader who is hugely respected and has a lot of mana in our group. We know he’ll lead the boys through his actions.”

Robertson said conditioning had helped to improve the scrum from last year, and the locking stocks and loose forwards provided a great mix of leadership and quality athletes.

“Our locks are big, tall and strong with the likes of Geoff Cridge coming out of the Hurricanes - that makes a massive difference for us along with guys who have been really focussed on their core roles and aerial skills.

“Otere Black will lead our backline, he’s a strong leader, he’s played ITM Cup, and he’s in the Hurricanes wider training group. He’ll lead us around the field well alongside a group of other players with great ITM Cup and Super Rugby experience.

“We’ve got a good mix across the backline helped by the power that Nathanial Apa brings. We’ve got a bit of pace, guys who can play in different positions and we’ve got depth in our squad, which is really exciting for us.”

To view the full squad and to hear more from Scott Robertson click here.

The Under 20 squad assembles on 22 May at Mt Maunganui before they depart for Italy. A media schedule will be issued next week.

The World Rugby Under 20 Championship kicks off on 2 June.