Bay of Plenty and Tauranga Sports players Kaleb Trask and Tevita Mafileo have been selected in the New Zealand Under-20 squad to defend the World Rugby Championship later this month in France.

First-five/fullback Trask and tighthead prop Mafileo are fresh from victory over Australia in the final of the Oceania Rugby Under-20 Championship played on the Gold Coast.

Head coach Craig Philpott said he and his assistant coaches were presented with a tough job in selecting the squad of 28.

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"We have been impressed with the quality of players that have been with us throughout our camps and at the Oceania Championships, which meant it wasn't easy to narrow this group down," he said.

Captain Tom Christie and Blues winger Caleb Clarke return from the champion 2017 team, while at the other end of the scale there are eight players who will be eligible for selection again next year.

Experience also comes in the form of 12 players who have played at Mitre 10 Cup level and 27 of the 28 players having been involved in an Oceania Championship campaign.

"We found that a key factor to our success in 2017 was continuity so it was important to see the bulk of this squad be involved in the Oceania campaign," Philpott said.

"There are strengths right across the squad. Laghlan McWhannell was the standout lock at Oceania and he is complemented by the two-metre duo of Will Tucker and John Akau'ola Laula. Our captain, Tom Christie, leads an exciting loose forward trio that have been absolutely tireless in their efforts on the field.

"Vilimoni Koroi adds a point of difference in the back three alongside the genuine size and speed in the likes of Caleb Clarke and Leicester Faingaanuku, we are looking forward to seeing what they can create on the field."

Philpott said New Zealand would face Japan, Wales and Australia in a tough pool play assignment.

"Our focus will be very much on nailing our processes game by game and expecting the unexpected. Against Fiji at Oceania, we had to play 60 minutes with 14 men and that was a good test of our systems and mindset."


NZ Under-20 squad
Forwards: John Akau'ola-Laula Auckland; Sione Asi Manawatu; Tom Christie (Captain) Canterbury; Rob Cobb Auckland; Devan Flanders Hawke's Bay; Tom Florence Taranaki; Ricky Jackson Otago; Tevita Mafileo Bay of Plenty; Laghlan McWhannell Waikato; Xavier Numia Wellington; Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa Auckland; Hoskins Sotutu Auckland; Flynn Thomas Southland; Will Tremain Hawke's Bay; Will Tucker Canterbury; Kaliopasi Uluilakepa Wellington.

Backs: Caleb Clarke Auckland; Leicester Faingaanuku Tasman; Scott Gregory Northland; Vilimoni Koroi Otago; Harry Plummer Auckland; Billy Proctor Wellington; Jay Renton Southland; Xavier Roe Waikato; Jamie Spowart Tasman; Bailyn Sullivan Waikato; Tanielu Tele'a Auckland; Kaleb Trask Bay of Plenty; Players not considered due to injury: Tim Farrell Hawke's Bay; Brayden Iose Manawatu; Will Jordan Tasman; Bradley Slater Taranaki; Cameron Suafoa Auckland.