Hawke's Bay frontrower Pouri Rakete-Stones was the bolter when the New Zealand under-20 rugby team was announced this week.
"I'm stoked as it was a bit out of the blue. I mean, just making the Hurricanes under-20s a few weeks back was a surprise," Rakete-Stones said after the squad to play in the Oceania Under-20 tournament in Australia from April 29 to May was announced.
Rakete-Stones, 18, was one of five Hawke's Bay players selected.
Magpies winger Mason Emerson, centre Jonah Lowe and prop Mason Kean, and 2015 New Zealand Secondary Schools No8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u were the others. Like Rakete-Stones, Mikaele-Tu'u will be eligible for the Baby Blacks again next year.
Magpies head coach and New Zealand under-20s assistant coach Craig Philpott said Rakete-Stones wasn't among the 49 players selected for the New Zealand under-20 trial games in Palmerston North earlier this month.
However, he was called in after shining with his impact off the bench for the Hurricanes under-20s in their win against their Blues counterparts in Taupo.
"We invited him to our tight five camp and our scrum coach Jason Ryan, All Black forwards coach Mike Cron and myself all agreed he was coming on nicely. He went well when he played 80 minutes of one of our trial games," Philpott said.
After the Aussie tournament the Baby Blacks squad, which will attempt to win a second consecutive World Under-20 Championship title in Manchester, England from June 7-25, will be named. Philpott said five props would be taken to England and one needed to be able to cover hooker.
"Pouri is one of two props we are taking to Aussie who are in contention for this berth. He is a strong kid for his age and this is a tribute to the environment he has grown up in," Philpott said, referring to the powerlifting, strongman and wood chopping background of his father Pouri Rakete-Stones snr.
Rakete-Stones said he did some powerlifting with his father to build strength for rugby and was about to get into wood chopping when rugby began to take up all of his time. The Napier Boys' High School product works in pest control with his father and spends plenty of time trapping and shooting rabbits in the back blocks.
"This is good for my strength and fitness. Hopefully I can follow a similar path to Ricky ... he has done pretty well," Rakete-Stones said, referring to versatile Magpies frontrower Ricky Riccitelli who was a world championship-winning Baby Black last year and is now playing at Super Rugby level for the Hurricanes.
Rakete-Stones made his premier club rugby debut for Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports in yesterday's Nash Cup first-round match against Tamatea yesterday.
Magpies loosie Hugh Renton was unavailable for the Baby Blacks as he has only recently recovered from a lengthy injury spell.
Hawke's Bay age-group product and Canterbury-based fullback Caleb Makene has also been selected in the Baby Blacks team for the Aussie tournament.