Forty-five young men have assembled in Palmerston North for the first of two trial camps as coach Chris Boyd looks to whittle down his final New Zealand Under 20 squad to compete with home advantage at the IRB Junior World Championship 2014.
The four-day camp at the Institute of Sport based at Massey University includes a trial match on Saturday and brings the players a step closer to earning selection in Boyd’s squad, which will be looking to win back the title after victories for South Africa and England over the last two years.
This is the first time that New Zealand has hosted the Junior World Championship, featuring the best young players from 12 international teams and kicking off on the Queen’s birthday, Monday 2 June with the Final to be played at Eden Park on Friday 20 June.
“We started off with a couple hundred boys before Christmas and got that down to 60 in November and now for the March trial which is this Saturday, it’s now 46," said Boyd.
"Whilst the boys have half an eye on making the side for the tournament in June, I think they are all really keen to just get through and put in a good performance on the park on Saturday. We have a number of guys who have played ITM Cup already or in wider training groups or in Super Rugby squads in the backs, not so in the forwards.
"We have an impressive and competitive backline and there is a real good journeymen look about the forward pack so some real competition in the locks and the forwards without there being a whole lot of rock stars.”
Forwards: Adam Batt, Lachlan Boshier, Tim Cadwallader, Troy Callander, Geoffrey Cridge*, Josh Dickson, Joel Duffy, So’otala Fa’aso’o, Jack Falloon, Kyle Harris, Dylan Hayes, Brad Hemopo, Mitchell Jacobson*, Tau Koloamatangi*, Francois Marais, Tom McHugh, Aaron McPhee, Atunaisa Moli*, Bevan Moody, James O’Reilly, Liam Polwart*, Marcel Renata, Etimani Sului, Sam Thomas, James Tucker, Beau Williams.
Backs: Ben Edwards, Vince Aso*, Liam Daniela, TJ Faiane, Kaveinga Finau, Leon Fukofuka, Jackson Garden-Bachop, David Havili, Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie*, Richard Mo’unga, Elijah Nicholas, Lewis Ormond, Eroni Sotutu, Trinity Spooner-Neera, Tauasosi Tuimavave, Aukuso Tuitama, Beaudein Waaka, Regan Ware
* indicates players who will also be eligible next year
Players unavailable for selection for this camp due to injury: Hame Faiva (Waikato), Josh Renton (Otago), Vincent Sakaria (Wellington) and Matt Vaega (Auckland)
Players unavailable for this camp due to Investec Super Rugby duty: Simon Hickey and Tevita Li (Blues) and Mitchell Drummond (Crusaders)
Players ruled out of the tournament due to injury: Brian Alainu’uese (Waikato), Sinclair Dominokovich-Murray (Auckland) and Michael Green (Canterbury)
Video: All Black graduates welcome world to JWC 2014