New Zealand’s bid to reclaim the IRB Junior World Championship crown in 2013 began in earnest on Monday with 48 players called into a week-long camp in Palmerston North by new head coach Chris Boyd.
Boyd was one of the assistant coaches earlier this year when New Zealand’s dominance of the tournament came to an end as the Baby Blacks suffered a first ever loss (to Wales) and then lost 22-16 to hosts South Africa in a final played before 35,000 fans at Newlands.
Jason Emery was one of the standout players in the Baby Blacks class of 2012 and fresh from being named in the Highlanders squad for next year’s Super Rugby competition is one of a few familiar names in this first Under 20 training squad.
Two others have caught the eye for the All Black Sevens in Joe Webber and Ardie Savea who will both be missed by coach Gordon Tietjens as his side looks to successfully defend their HSBC Sevens World Series title in 2012/13.
The name Savea is no stranger to the Junior World Championship stage as Ardie’s older brother Julian was named IRB Junior Player of the Year in 2010 after scoring eight tries to help New Zealand win a third successive title.
Clear goal for 2013
Julian Savea has continued that try-scoring form since making his All Blacks debut against Ireland in June, marking that occasion with a hat-trick and his braces against Scotland and Italy this month mean he now boasts 10 tries in seven Tests.
The younger Savea, who has been named in the Hurricanes Super Rugby squad for 2013 alongside his brother, is one of 27 forwards attending the camp in Palmerston North until 26 November. There will then be two further camps in March and April to fine-tune the Baby Blacks squad.
“It’s exciting to think that we have begun our work towards France next year,” said Boyd, who will be assisted by Waikato’s Chris Gibbes and Liam Barry of North Harbour. “Our main focus for this camp is to build our knowledge and understanding of the individual player abilities.
“We’re looking forward to working with the boys, as they prepare themselves to contest for a spot in the squad that we take to France. We’re very clear on the goal, particularly after a disappointing final loss to South Africa this year – we want to go out there and dominate and bring back our Championship title and trophy.”
New Zealand Under 20s will face Ireland, Australia and Fiji in Pool B at IRB Junior World Championship 2013, which will take place in three venues in France from 5-23 June.
New Zealand Under 20 squad for training camp
Forwards: Sonny Ali’ifa’alogo (Waikato), Scott Barett (Canterbury), Donald Brighouse (Wellington), Sean Brookman (Auckland), Mitchell Brown (Taranaki), Adam Burn, Josh Davey (Waikato), Joe Edwards (Auckland), Hame Faive (Waikato), Levi Guildford (Hawke’s Bay), Jackson Hemopo (Otago), Alexander Hodgman (Canterbury), Tom Hughes (Manawatu), Kane Jacobsen (Waikato), Daniel Lienert-Brown (Canterbury), Sione Mafileo, Jordan Manihera (North Harbour), Hadleigh May (Otago), Kalafi Pongi (Counties Manukau), Ardie Savea (Wellington), Scott Scrafton (Auckland), Sabastion Siataga (Canterbury), John-Bosco Tagaloa (Bay of Plenty), Patrick Tuipulotu, Chris Vui (Auckland), Joe Walsh (Waikato), Boyd Wiggins (North Harbour).
Backs: Tayler Adams (Southland), Fomai Ah Ki (Auckland), Shayne Anderson (Canterbury), Michael Collins (Otago), Pele Cowley (Auckland), Jason Emery (Manawatu), Calvary Fonoti (Auckland), Faasiu Fuatai (Otago), Jack Halpin (Auckland), Wharenui Hawera (Waikato), Simon Hickey (Auckland), Penikolo Latu (Hawke’s Bay), Niko Malo (Waikato), Rameka Paraki (Canterbury), Sheridan Rangihuna, Tamati Samuels (Hawke’s Bay), Melani Vai, Leroy van Dam, Lolagi Visinia (Auckland), Tei Walden (Otago), Joe Webber (Waikato).