Australia Under 20 coaches Adrian Thompson and Sean Hedger have named 50 players to attend their final IRB Junior World Championship selection camp, which takes place at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from Wednesday to Sunday.
Thompson and Hedger have selected players from across the country as they look to finalise their squad of 28 players for the sixth edition of the Junior World Championship, which takes place from 5-23 June in France.
“We’ll make the camp quite challenging and try to simulate what they’ll experience at the tournament to assess whether they are ready for that environment,” explained Thompson.
Much of the camp will be geared towards game preparations with the players split into two teams for a trial match on Sunday and Thompson is keen to see how players handle the pressure environment.
“This will be a selection trial match, we want to see them prepare in a team situation and how they perform under pressure,” added Thompson. “The big focus for us is to use this week as a selection tool.
“While we’re preparing these two teams for their trial match we’ll be teaching them a fair bit of how we want to play the game in June, so hopefully they’ll leave the camp with a good understanding of that.”
Pathway to the Wallabies
While eligible for Australia Under 20 selection, Queensland Reds player Chris Feauai-Sautia is unavailable to attend this week’s camp.
Australia Sevens representatives Cam Clark, Tom Cusack, Allan Fa’alava’au, Lewis Holland, Junior Laloifi, Nick Malouf, Sean McMahon and Will Miller are also eligible for the Under 20s, but could be unavailable due to Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 which takes place in Russia a week after the Junior World Championship ends.
The Australian age grade programme has long been a development stepping stone for future Wallabies, with the likes of Will Genia, David Pocock, Quade Cooper, Rob Simmons, James Slipper and Michael Hooper all going from JWC to the Test arena.
Liam Gill captained Australia Under 20s at last year’s Junior World Championship in South Africa and two months later made his Wallabies debut in The Rugby Championship against New Zealand. The 20-year-old had amassed eight caps by the end of 2012 and is one of 19 players capped by the Wallabies after playing on the JWC stage.
The Australia squad for JWC 2013 will be named next week and the team will head into its first preparation camp at Bond University in the first week of May.
The side will play two trials before leaving for France, taking on Papua New Guinea’s national team on 2 May at Bond University and an Australian Rugby Union National Academy side at Narrabeen Sports Academy in mid-May.
Australia face a tricky pool at JWC 2013 with four-time champions New Zealand, Fiji and Ireland their opponents as they seek to bounce back from their worst placing in the tournament’s history of eighth in 2012.
Australia Under 20 selection camp
Allan Alaalatoa, Mark Baldwin, Curtis Browning, Luke Burton, Declan Carroll, Jack Debreczeni, Jack Dempsey, Rhys Dombkins, Karl Elliott, Sam Fattal, Lalakai Foketi, Feao Fotuaika, Michael Freeman, Samuel Green, Albert Hemopo, Reece Hodge, Oliver Hoskins, Chris Ingate, Siotome Kavapalu, Samuel Kerevi, Phill Kite, Silatolu Latu, Ofiu Manukeu, Jake McIntyre, Ben Meehan, Jock Merriman, Jake Milne, Conor Mitchell, Andrew Muirhead, Maile Ngauamo, Alex Northam, Harry Parker, Matt Philip, Jonah Placid, John Porch, Oscar Pryor-Lees, Angus Pulver, Andrew Ready, Andrew Robinson, Ulupano Seuteni, Patrick Sio, Thomas Staniforth, Jim Stewart, Henry Taefu, Corey Thomas, Campbell Wakely, Scott Gale, Mitchell Whiteley, Tom Wilson.