Little more than two weeks after holding his nerve to kick Australia to the Tokyo Sevens title, Matt Lucas will attend the last Under 20 selection camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra next week, hoping to win a place in the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 squad.
The 19-year-old slotted a long-range conversion to beat Samoa 28-26 in Tokyo and ensure Australia became the fifth different winner on the HSBC Sevens World Series this season, and will be joined at the Under 20 camp by three other members of that squad in Con Foley, Allan Faalavaau and Sean McMahon.
Lewis Holland, who has also caught the eye on the Sevens World Series this season, will also attend the camp having recovered from the injury which forced him to miss out on Australia’s success in the Japanese capital.
A number of players with Super Rugby experience could also attend the camp depending on their commitments, including Queensland Reds flanker Liam Gill, the youngest to play in a Junior World Championship after turning 18 during the 2010 tournament when Australia were runners-up to New Zealand in Argentina.
Under 20 coaches Anthony Eddy and David Nucifora will get to run an eye over around 40 players from across the five states and territories from 16-19 April with the help of National Academy coaches Andrew Blades, Paul Carozza, Patricio Noriega and Nick Scrivener.
“We saw a lot of competition amongst players in the first selection camp in March, as players worked hard to show why they should represent the Australian Under 20s,” explained Eddy.
“These camps are extremely beneficial in identifying the best candidates for the Junior World Championship, but they are not the only basis for selection. In the coming weeks we will also be looking at players’ performances in club rugby to help finalise squad selections.”
The chance to run the eye over Australian Sevens and Super Rugby players is something of a welcome headache for Eddy and Nucifora as they attempt to select the 28 players who will travel to South Africa for JWC 2012 from 4-22 June.
“With players like St.George Queensland Reds flanker Liam Gill and recent Qantas men’s Sevens revelations Allan Faalavaau and Matt Lucas available for selection, there will obviously be a lot of competition for spots,” Eddy added.
“It’s a selection problem we’re happy to have and the Junior World Championship provides further opportunities to up-and-coming Australian players to test themselves at elite levels of Rugby.
“The IRB Junior World Championship is a key development tool and stepping stone for young Australians looking to take the next step in their Rugby careers.”
In its brief history since changing from the Australian Under 19 and Under 21 programmes, the Under 20 side has nurtured the talent of Wallabies Quade Cooper, Will Genia, David Pocock, Kurtley Beale, Rob Simmons and James Slipper amongst others.
Australia finished third at JWC 2011 in Italy, recovering from a 37-7 loss to New Zealand in the semi finals to beat France 30-17 in the third place play-off. That means Australia are the top seeds in Pool C and will face France, Argentina and Scotland at JWC 2012.
Australia Under 20 selection camp squad:
Allan Alaalatoa, Mark Baldwin, Steve Cummins, James Dargaville, Timothy Donlan, Ben Haris, Terrence Hepetema, Malietoa Hingano, Byron Hodge, Jed Holloway, Boyd Killingworth, Silatolu Latu, Apolosi Latunipulu, Benn Melrose, Guy Millar, William Miller, Alexander Northam, Peter Schuster, William Skelton, Keliti Vaingalo, Williams Weeks (all NSW), Luke Beauchamp, Michael Bermingham, Curtis Browning, Sean Cox, Lindsay Crook, Con Foley, Nicholas Frisby*, Liam Gill*, Matthew Lucas, Sean McMahon, Maile Ngauamo, Pettowa Paraka, Christopher Sautia*, Ulupano Seuteni*, Michael Stolberg, Nuku’alofa Swerling, Henry Taefu, Alexander Toolis, Ben Toolis (all QLD), Thomas Cusack, Lewis Holland, Leslie Makin, Hugh Roach (all ACT), Allan Faalavaau, Isaiah Mosese (both VIC), Kyle Godwin*, Oliver Hoskins (both WA).
* Attendance at camp pending availability.