Pondering his move from Christchurch to Hawke's Bay last year was one of the most agonising periods in Geoff Cridge's life.
"It was a hard decision to leave my family at my age ... but it paid off with this week's selection," Cridge said.
The Hastings Rugby and Sports lock was named as the Bay's sole representative in the New Zealand team for the June Under-20 World Cup in Auckland.
"It's a huge honour. Winning a black jersey is something I've always strived for ... I was pretty stoked. While I was happy with my trial games, I was still nervous as hell waiting for the squad to be announced," Cridge said.
A former Canterbury under-15, 16 and 18s representative, Cridge, 19, had two years in the Christchurch Boys' High School 1st XV. He boasts the ability to cover the No 8 and blindside flanker positions.
"I don't know if I will be called upon to do that with the Baby Blacks but I will if I have to," Cridge said.
A Hawke's Bay under-20s rep last year, Cridge has played two Nash Cup fixtures this season because of his under-20 trial camp commitments. The former Darfield and High School Old Boys club player is a big fan of Crusaders and All Black lock Sam Whitelock.
"I like to mould my game on his."
Hawke's Bay Rugby Union's player development manager, Joe Payton, said Cridge has "done really well" since joining the union's academy squad in August last year.
"He has done everything he can to improve his game and is a pretty exciting athlete. He's been signed by the Hurricanes for the next three years and has the potential to be an All Black ... another Brodie Retallick," Payton said referring to another former Cantabrian who gained New Zealand under-20s selection after arriving in the Bay.
Cridge will miss IMS Payroll Hastings Rugby and Sports fifth round Tui Nash Cup fixture against Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports at Elwood Park today but he intends to get a couple of club games in before the Baby Blacks assemble in Mount Maunganui on May 20 for a pre-tournament camp. While Cridge is the sole Hawke's Bay-based player in the side, former Hawke's Bay age group prop Tim Cadwallader is the sole Manawatu rep and only specialist tighthead prop in the team.
A Lindisfarne College product, Cadwallader, 19, is in his second year as a sport and recreation course student at Massey University. He won the trophy for the player-of-the-final when Manawatu won the Hurricanes under-20 competition last year.
This was his second Hurricanes title as he was a member of the unbeaten 2011 Hawke's Bay under-16 side which won their Hurricanes tournament. The College Old Boys club player's long-term goal is to be a professional rugby coach.
If his latest selection is an indication, the 1.83m tall Cadwallader who weighs 115kg is likely to be a professional player first. His father and staunch Taradale supporter, Ian Cadwallader, will have another reason to toss a dollar or two over the bar at Carters Arms Park tonight if the Mighty Maroons can maintain their Nash Cup competition lead and unbeaten run with a win against defending champions Progressive Meats Havelock North.
Other Nash Cup encounters today will see Northfuels Central host MAC at Waipukurau's Central Park, Hawke's Bay Insurances Ltd Napier Old Boys Marist host Clive at Park Island and Tech Group of Companies host Tamatea at Whitmore Park.
The U20s squad:
Forwards: Lachlan Boshier, Taranaki; Timothy Cadwallader, Manawatu/HB; Troy Callander, Bay of Plenty; Geoff Cridge, Hawke's Bay; Joshua Dickson, Otago; Epalahame Faiva, Waikato; Kyle Harris, Otago; Mitchell Jacobson, Waikato; Tau Koloamatangi, Waikato, Scott Mellow, Taranaki; Atunaisa Moli, Waikato; James O'Reilly, Wellington; Matthew Peni, Wellington; Tom Sanders, Canterbury; James Tucker, Waikato.
Backs: Mitchell Drummond, Canterbury; Kaveinga Finau, Canterbury; Leon Fukofuka, Auckland; Tinoai (TJ) Faiane, Auckland; Jackson Garden-Bachop, Wellington; Simon Hickey (captain), Auckland; Tevita Li, North Harbour; Anton Lienert-Brown, Waikato; Damian McKenzie, Waikato; Richard Mo'unga, Canterbury; Joshua Renton, Otago; Vincent Tavae-Aso, Auckland; Tauasosi Tuimavave, Wellington.