All Black legend Jonah Lomu will be the IRB Junior World Championship 2014 Ambassador.
A legend of the game since he burst onto the international scene at Rugby World Cup 1995, Lomu went on to play 63 times for the All Blacks between 1994 and 2002, scoring 37 tries.
The annual Under 20 tournament takes place in Auckland, New Zealand from June 2-20.
Lomu, who has become a role model for so many current stars, puts special merit on the key role that age grade Rugby plays in the development of the future stars of world Rugby.
“It’s exciting and a great privilege to be an Ambassador for the IRB Junior World Championship. I’m really looking forward to watching some great Rugby and welcoming the stars of the future to New Zealand in June."
“Playing at under-age level for New Zealand helped me to showcase my skills and talents, and really developed me as a player. The game has, of course, changed since then, but the pathway that an Under 20 tournament like the JWC can give to young players is crucial.”
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“Some of these players are already making their names in club Rugby around the world, and it will be great to watch them showcase their skills for their national teams at this year's JWC. It's going to be really competitive and fans travelling to Auckland are in for a real treat.”
Since its formation in 2008, almost 300 players have made the step from JWC to the Test arena, including All Black fly-half Aaron Cruden, British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton, Australia’s Quade Cooper, England’s Owen Farrell, Ireland’s Conor Murray, France’s Yoann Maestri and South African second row Eben Etzebeth.
England travel to New Zealand as reigning champions, after they beat Wales in a thrilling final in France in 2013.
Hosts New Zealand won the first four IRB Junior World Championships, with South Africa beating them in the final in 2012.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Jonah Lomu is one of the first global Rugby superstars and we’re delighted to have him on board for this year’s Junior World Championship in New Zealand.”
“I have no doubt that he will be an inspiration to the future stars of world Rugby just like he has inspired so many players around the globe for the past 20 years. Jonah is a welcome addition to what is shaping up to be a wonderful event in Auckland this June.”