NZ U20 to flex muscles against Fiji
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: New Zealand Under-20 have named a strong side for their first Test of the U20 Oceania Tournament on the Gold Coast on Friday.
New Zealand U20 head coach Craig Philpott said the team was coming together well for the tournament, which this year includes Fiji, Samoa and hosts Australia.
"We've had some challenges coming over, with a couple of late changes and replacements, but the group is gelling really well and enjoying each other’s company.
"The Oceania tournament provides the first taste of international Test match rugby for several of the players, and offers a good step up for them. We've had All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster in camp with us for the last three days which has inspired the team and he offered plenty of good advice in training for the boys.
"When selecting the starting teams for this tournament we want to give everyone an equal shot at game time, to test some different combinations and cement our game plan for the World Championship in June. All the guys will either get a start or come off the bench over the three games.
"This Fijian side is an unknown quantity to us. However, it's probable they will want to keep the ball alive and not kick too much, play with flair and want to attack. We think we have the combinations to counter the strengths of the opposition.
"For this tournament we have set ourselves a couple of simple goals around attack and defence. We want to embed the patterns that we have been working on in our earlier camps in New Zealand and in training this week on the Gold Coast. I'm looking to see players to stick with those patterns, regardless of the pressure they come under, so we stay in shape and stay in structure."
New Zealand: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Tima Faingaanuku, 13 Tamati Tua, 12 Orbyn Leger, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Tiaan Falcon, 9 Kemara Hauiti Parapara, 8 Luke Jacobson (captain), 7 Tom Christie, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Sam Slade, 4 Jacob Pierce, 3 Ryan Coxon, 2 JP Sauni, 1 Harrison Allen.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Tim Farrell, 18 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Carlos Price, 22 Ciarahn Matoe, 23 Caleb Clarke.
Date: Friday, April 28
Venue: Bond University, Gold Coast
Kick-off: 19.00 (07.00 GMT)
Referee: Ed Martin (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rachel Horton (Australia), Cam Foley (Australia)