Tauranga Water Polo Club members will make up a large part of the New Zealand team to contest the Fina World Men's Youth Water Polo Championships in Montenegro from August 26 to September 3.

Bae Fountain (Mount Maunganui College), Cayne Dew (ex-Aquinas College, Auckland University), Justin Pickering (Mount Maunganui College) and Richard Sneddon (Hamilton Boys') will travel with another Tauranga club member, Sean McKenzie (Tauranga Boys'), the non-travelling reserve.

For Pickering, 17, this is the third consecutive year he has represented New Zealand at this level.

The utility player says New Zealand had drawn a tough pool in Montenegro.


"The best sides are Serbia, Hungary, Montenegro and Croatia then America and in our pool we have got Serbia, Croatia, America and China so that will be tough.

"But it will be good to get all the experience playing the top teams."

The usual frantic action will be boosted further by Fina trialling experimental rules for the youth world championships with the normal 30-second shot clock cut back by five seconds and a 15-second ejection play.

"It just means we have less time with the ball in each possession," goalkeeper Fountain, 15, said.

"So we get 25 seconds to attack and they get 25 seconds, which will put far more emphasis on the fitness."

New Zealand head coach Jim Floerchinger started with the group in February 2013 and said fitness and basic tactical awareness would be key for success.

"We have a wonderful group of athletes, and the key thing over which we all have control is our physical preparation," he said.

"We are mindful that all our athletes will have two weeks of competition at the Pan Pacific Championships.

"We will all need to balance our work and school commitments as well as our water polo. The Northern Hemisphere teams will all be on summer break and without any distractions."

The 14th Pan Pacific Youth Water Polo Festival will hold centre stage in Auckland from July 9-19.

There will be 151 teams from four nations competing in 570 games stretched over 10 days of competition at six venues across Auckland.

It is not only an opportunity to win national titles for Tauranga's elite water polo athletes but to fine-tune their skills ahead of the world champs.

Fountain is in the Tauranga A under-16 team with Pickering part of both the Tauranga A under-18 and under-20 teams.

"It is pretty important because we are gaining all that valuable game time against the top teams in New Zealand and teams coming over from Australia and California and national teams competing as well," Pickering said. "So it will be high-level practice against the best players in our age group."

Tauranga has an enviable record at junior level which Pickering said started at the younger levels.

"At under-12s we have eight or nine teams and then as you get older you obviously have less teams," he said. "But that competitive nature builds as you're going up through the ranks."