Rugby: Champion U20s take first step towards defence

New Zealand under-20 coach Scott Robertson. Photo / File
New Zealand under-20 coach Scott Robertson. Photo / File

Forty-nine players have assembled for a trial camp in Palmerston North as selectors narrow their search for the next New Zealand Under 20 squad to defend their World Championship title.

Waikato's Jordan Trainor, a wider training group member for the Blues, is included. While there are just two from Auckland, there are two injured from the province, while no less than 12 played their First XV rugby in Auckland's 1A competition.

The talent is palpable, featuring a high number of NZ Schools reps from 2014-15, plus the 2013 skipper, Mitch Jacobson of Waikato, who is gunning for his third year in the New Zealand Under 20s. First five/fullback Stephen Perofeta, now of Taranaki, starred in the 2015 Heartland Championship for Wanganui and cracked the national Heartland XV.

First five Josh McKay was a standout for NZ Schools in 2015 out of Christchurch BHS.

New Zealand Under 20 head coach Scott Robertson said players have arrived in camp fit and excited at the prospect of trialling in two games tomorrow.

"We've already been able to watch a lot of these guys playing for their development teams and that's been really helpful. This trial camp is a good opportunity for us to see the players in this competitive environment and it gives us a good chance to see what they can do in 80 minutes," he said.

"We've got a lot of young players, some straight out of school, who could qualify to play next year as well, so that's exciting. Our focus will be to select a squad to play in the Oceania Under 20 tournament in May, before we select our squad for the World Championship."

The World Rugby Under 20 Championship will this year be held in Manchester, England from June 7-25. The Oceania Under 20 tournament will be played in Australia from April 29- May 8.

The players selected for the trial camp are:

Forwards: Jonah Aoina (Otago), Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Mason Kean (Hawke's Bay), Shaun Stoddart (Otago), Sean Paranihi (Canterbury), Joe Apikotoa (Wellington), Alex Fidow (Wellington), Sefo Kautai (Waikato), Sekope Lopeti (Waikato), Max Fryatt (Hawke's Bay), Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Hamish Dalzell (Canterbury), Romero Tagi (Auckland), Quinten Strange (Tasman), Sam Caird (Waikato), Isaia Walker-Leawere (Poverty Bay), Paripari Parkinson (Tasman), Luke Jacobson (Waikato), Lui Okeamoa-Luamanu (Wellington), Finn Hoeata (Taranaki), Charlie Gamble (Canterbury), Mitchell Jacobson (Waikato), Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a (North Harbour), Marino Mikaele-Tu'u (Hawke's Bay), Martin Brink (North Harbour), Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Manawatu), Nathan Tweedy (Manawatu), Dalton Papali'i (Auckland)

Backs: Liam Howley (Southland), Logan Crowley (Canterbury), Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau), Brett Cameron (Canterbury), Matthew Lansdown (Waikato), TJ Va'a (Wellington), Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau), Stephen Perofeta (Taranaki), Alex Nankivell (Tasman), Jordie Barrett (Canterbury), Lester Maulolo (Wellington), Amanaki Savieti (Waikato), Pepe Patafilo (Wellington), Gene Te Amo (Counties Manukau), Jonah Lowe (Hawke's Bay), Shelford Murray (Waikato), Mason Emerson (Hawke's Bay), Caleb Makene (Canterbury), Jordan Trainor (Waikato), Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wellington), Josh McKay (Canterbury)

Not considered due to Super Rugby commitments were:
Leni Apisai (Wellington)
Sam Nock (Northland)
Sio Tomkinson (Otago)
Shaun Stevenson (Waikato)

Players not considered due to injury were:
Hayden Spencer (Waikato)
Ere Enari (Canterbury)
Hugh Renton (Hawke's Bay)
Harrison Levien (Waikato)
Sam Ulufonua (Auckland)
Jahrome Brown (Waikato)
Malo Tuitama (Wellington)
Lisati Milo-Harris (Auckland)

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