Australian Rugby Union has announced Adrian Thompson (head coach) and Sean Hedger (assistant coach) as the Australian Under-20 coaches for the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship being held in France in June.
The IRB Junior World Championship takes place from 5-23 June in France, where Australia will face New Zealand, Fiji and Ireland in pool play, after finishing eighth in the 2012 tournament in South Africa.
Thompson, the current forwards coach at the ARU National Academy in Brisbane, has more than 10 years coaching experience, which includes stints with premier-grade sides Easts and Brothers, as well as with the Queensland Reds and Australia A.
Hedger, who is currently at the helm of the ARU National Academy in Sydney, has nearly 10 years’ experience, most recently as head coach of Japanese club Kyuden Voltex in 2011-12.
The coaches were named ahead of the first Australian Under-20 selection camp being held at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from Monday 18 to Thursday 21 February, with Thompson keen to get preparations underway for June.
“We’ll be bringing a group of 50 players into this camp and many of them will attend all our camps,” Thompson said.
“These are great opportunities to see a lot of these guys and get a good idea of where their skills are at.”
Australia finish eight in 2013
This is the first of three selection camps which will be held over the coming months and will have a focus on core skills and fitness testing.
The Australian age-grade program has long been a developmental stepping stone for future Wallabies, with the likes of Will Genia, David Pocock, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Rob Horne and Kurtley Beale all making their way through the program early in their careers.
“Obviously you want to be successful at the tournament, but long-term the Australian Under-20 program is all about developing depth and helping build these players into professional footballers,” Thompson said.
Next week’s camp features six members of the 2012 Australian Under-20 squad, with Alan Alaalatoa, Oliver Hoskins, Silatolu Latu, Jock Merriman, Maile Nguamo and Sam Reiser all invited to attend.
It also features seven members of the Australian Schools squad which toured Fiji and New Zealand last year, culminating in a 16-14 win over New Zealand Schools in Auckland.
Australian Schools 2012 players Jack Dempsey, Adam Korcyk, Jake McIntyre, Jonah Placid, Angus Pulver, Andrew Robinson and Tom Staniforth will be in attendance next week.
The camp will feature 50 under-20 players vying for a spot in the final 28-player squad bound for France later this year.