Stephen Perofeta is in Georgia and will suit up at No 10 for New Zealand in tomorrow's World Rugby Under 20s Championship final against England.
Perofeta would have been in the original squad but was making his way back from a long-term injury. However, he proved his fitness with five tries in two games for his Ponsonby club, an effective display off the bench for the Blues against the Reds in Samoa, and then a starring role for the franchise in their 22-16 victory over the Lions on June 7.
He comes in for Hawke's Bay's in-form Tiaan Falcon, who was ruled out with a concussion he sustained in the 39-26 semifinal win over France. Head coach Craig Philpott could have opted to use Orbyn Leger or Josh McKay at pivot, but he whistled up Perofeta, who arrived in Georgia on Friday.
"We have had to rule Tiaan out of the final due to concussion, which is really disappointing for both him and our whole squad. Luckily we have an awesome replacement in Stephen who has plenty of experience," says Philpott, confirming that this is the sole change from the 23 for the semifinal, though Taranaki prop Alex Mitchell has replaced Ryan Coxon in the squad.
"The forwards selected have been rewarded for their consistent performances during the tournament. Our scrum and lineout has been operating at close to 100 percent, so we need to reproduce that in the final.
"Our young men are excited to add to the legacy of the black jersey and perform well in the World Cup final."
Falcon and fullback Will Jordan, who has five tries in Georgia, are nominees for the player of the tournament, while England No 8 Zach Mercer and left wing Gabriel Ibitoye are also nominees.
Captain Luke Jacobson is certain there will be no complacency, which may have crept into their second half against France, in which they conceded four tries in quick succession, briefly evoking painful memories of the 1999 RWC semifinal against France at Twickenham.
"We had a bloody good first half, but we got thrown a bit in that second spell. They got their tails up and got momentum, so we took plenty of learnings," says the 20-year-old, one of seven looking to erase the pain of the fifth placing in 2016.
"We expect England to come out firing and try and put a bit of pressure on our set-piece, but we are confident with our set-piece and hopefully we can put the hammer down there."
It's a funny thing, how their opponents feel there is a weakness at set-piece. Granted, they did conceded a couple of tries from lineout drives early in the tournament, but defending those mauls legally is hard to do at the best of times and is reliant on accurate officiating.
"We've put a lot of time into that to clear it up, so we are confident about stopping them. We just have to make sure we don't give away any penalties," says Jacobson.
New Zealand have positively roared on attack, racing in 31 tries in four games to England's 21. They have a dangerous threequarter line and Caleb Clare is lethal with any room to move on the left wing. The Braydon Ennor-Leger midfield partnership has operated smoothly, and they should lose nothing with Perofeta running the cutter. There is athleticism in the pack via the likes of locks Isaia Walker-Leawere and Samuel Slade, with muscular ball carriers such as loose forwards Marino Mikaele-Tu'u and Dalton Papali'i. Alex Fidow and McKay, inter alia, can offer impact off the pine.
England have not set the world on fire in the tournament, but have won three tight contests on the bounce, against Wales, Australia and with a late Mercer try to head South Africa 24-22 in the semifinal.
They have two back from the side that won the 2016 title, their third in four years. New Zealand last won in 2015 under the coaching of Scott Robertson and the captaincy of Atu Moli.
There is also a New Zealand connection in the England side, with captain Zach Mercer the son of former Kiwis league utility Gary Mercer, while at second five is Jacob Umaga, son of former Manu Samoa fullback Mike Umaga and nephew of Tana Umaga.
England have battled adversity, losing five to the senior England squad to Argentina and then five through injury, but they will not lack for motivation and will play to their forward strengths.
"We have had a tougher route to the final than New Zealand, however tight games bring the best out of the players and the team, and we have shown how to come out on top," says head coach Ian Vass.
Kickoff is at 2am (NZT) tomorrow.
New Zealand Under 20: Will Jordan, Tima Faingaanuku, Braydon Ennor, Orbyn Leger, Caleb Clarke, Stephen Perofeta, Ere Enari, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Dalton Papali'i, Luke Jacobson (c), Sam Slade, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Asafo Aumua, Ezekiel Lindinmuth
Reserves: JP Sauni, Harrison Allan, Alex Fidow, Sam Caird, Tom Christie, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Tamati Tua, Josh McKay
England Under 20: Tom Parton, Darren Atkins, Will Butler, Jacob Umaga, Gabriel Ibitoye, Max Malins, Harry Randall, Zach Mercer (c), Ben Earl, Dino Lamb, Jack Nay, Josh Caulfield, Ciaran Knight, Joe Mullis, Ralph Adams-Hale
Reserves: Henry Walker, Ollie Dawe, Alex Seville, Justin Clegg, Josh Bayliss, Alex Mitchell, James Grayson, Paolo Odogwu