Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby hooker Kianu Kereru-Symes will captain the Baby Blacks at next month's under-20 world championship in Argentina.

"It's an overwhelming experience to be named captain of your country for a World Cup," Kereru-Symes said shortly after the team was announced.

The MAC club player was destined for the role after captaining Hastings Boys' High School's 1st XV to the National Top Four title in 2017 and the Baby Blacks at the Oceania Championship which finished on the Gold Coast earlier this month.

"I was really impressed with how the boys reacted to my captaincy in Aussie. In saying that I didn't have to do much as the boys are self driven and understanding of how special it is to be in this team," Kereru-Symes said.


He pointed out that although a few players were injured in Australia, a lot of good players missed selection which he said was a good thing. Kereru-Symes was confident the Baby Blacks could put the disappointment of their 24-0 loss to Australia in last weekend's Oceania Championship final behind them.

"It's important we watch that game and learn from our mistakes. Once we've done that we can put that game in the past. We will have some games in Mount Maunganui to work on things before we depart."

Fellow Magpie, loosie Devan Flanders, will play at his second under-20 world championship after being a member of last year's Baby Blacks team which finished fourth in France. A shoulder injury collected in the Oceania Championship first round win against Fiji ruled him out of the Baby Blacks matches against Japan and Australia.

Havelock North club player Flanders hopes he will be able to play in Mount Maunganui. He was also optimistic about the New Zealand team's chances of improving on last year's fourth placing.

"There's a good bond within the environment. While there are a few different plays we have still to nail there's a lot we can take out of the loss to the Aussies, a game in which we didn't play to our ability.

"We didn't have some of our Super players and there is still a bit we didn't show. The Oceania Championship was like a warm-up tournament for us," Flanders added.

While Magpies utility back Danny Toala missed selection for Argentina he will be among the players on head coach and former Magpies mentor Craig Philpott's standby list.

Philpott said he and his coaching team were able to name a strong squad for what is set to be a tough tournament.

"We have a group here that has the potential to be really special. The focus is on us playing our style of game, but we also have to be ready to adapt to opposition as well.


"We are going to be playing teams who are forward oriented, that scrum for penalties; so we need to change the way we think about the game but still maintain that flair that is New Zealand rugby's point of difference on the world stage."

The squad features seven players who were involved in last year's programme, 11 with Mitre 10 Cup experience and 15 who have graduated from the 2018 Jock Hobbs Memorial national under 19 tournament.

"Seeing that number of players come through the Jock Hobbs tournament just further emphasises how valuable that tournament is for us as an identification tool."

Crusaders winger Leicester Faingaanuku, Chiefs outside back Etene Nanai Seturo and Hurricanes midfield back Billy Proctor have been released from their respective Super teams to join the squad, and Philpott said their inclusion is fantastic.

The full Baby Blacks squad is:
Forwards: Kaylum Boshier (Taranaki, vice-captain), George Dyer (Waikato), Samipeni Finau (Waikato), Devan Flanders (Hawke's Bay), Cullen Grace (Canterbury), Kohan Herbert (Bay of Plenty), Kianu Kereru-Symes (Hawke's Bay, Captain), Shilo Klein (Canterbury), Jeriah Mua (Bay of Plenty), Fletcher Newell (Canterbury), Ollie Norris (Waikato), Simon Parker (Waikato), Taine Plumtree (Wellington), Kaliopasi Uluilakepa (Wellington), Tupou Vaa'i (Taranaki), Tamaiti Williams (Canterbury).
Backs: Fergus Burke (Canterbury), Leroy Carter (Bay of Plenty), Leicester Faingaanuku (Tasman/Crusaders), Cole Forbes (Bay of Plenty), Taufa Funaki (Auckland), Scott Gregory (Northland/All Blacks Sevens), Lalomilo Lalomilo (Bay of Plenty), Dallas McLeod (Canterbury, vice-captain), Billy Proctor (Wellington/Hurricanes), Rivez Reihana (Waikato), Etene Nanai Seturo (Counties Manukau/Chiefs), Quinn Tupaea (Waikato).
Players not considered due to Super Rugby commitments: Caleb Clarke (Auckland/Blues).
Players not considered due to injury: Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty), Finlay Brewis (Canterbury).
New Zealand Under 20 pool schedule: v Georgia Wednesday June 5, 4am; v Scotland Sunday June 9, 6.30am; v South Africa Thursday June 13, 6.30am.