Fifty players will assemble in Palmerston North for a camp in a fortnight for stage one of the New Zealand Under 20s' quest to retain their World Rugby Under 20 Championship title in England next June.
No less than 20 of the 50 are from Canterbury or Waikato, and it is no coincidence when you consider those two unions contested the national Under 19 Premiership final last month. Among them is the flanker and DJ Graham award for player of that tournament, Charlie Gamble of Canterbury.
Just four are from Auckland, though a good dozen played First XV rugby in the city of sails, reflecting the continued diaspora. Six players are unavailable for this camp due to Super Rugby training, while there are five injuries and Auckland and Blues threequarter Rieko Ioane appears to be on the sevens pathway for 2016. The three Scots College stars - bullocking prop Alex Fidow and the brilliant midfield twins Thomas and Peter Umaga-Jensen - will sit out this camp as they finish off school exams.
In general, the talent ID production line is working well. Thirteen of the 50 played for NZ Schools in 2014, while a further 12 appeared for the NZ Barbarians Schools.
No less than 10 played ITM Cup rugby in 2015, while Waikato flanker Mitch Jacobson should be a sitter, barring injury, to play an unprecedented third year in the Under 20s.
The group will be in camp from November 27 to December 2 with further camps planned in March and April.
Head coach Scott Robertson said he was excited and looking forward to the first major camp for the Under 20 hopefuls.
"It's always fantastic to see a new bunch of guys come through, and it's always great to see who's willing to work hard and take this incredible opportunity.
"These boys will know they have a very real chance of turning rugby into a profession for themselves if they have the determination and willpower to keep working hard for it.
"One of the things I love about this team, is how much talent gets unearthed - the fact that 15 of this year's championship team have been named in Super Rugby squads or wider training groups demonstrates the level of talent New Zealand keeps producing.
"We saw some really exciting talent at the national Under 19s tournament in Taupo this year, which is hugely encouraging as we consider all our options.
"This month's camp will be about giving the boys a taste of this unique national team environment, we'll lay out our expectations, and we'll have a good look what sort of nick they are in.
"This summer, they'll need to exercise some discipline around nutrition and training if they want to stay in the mix. The fact that next year's tournament is being played in England should be a huge motivator for these guys."
Robertson will have two new assistant coaches with him for the 2016 campaign. Taranaki's Willie Rickards has been appointed as an assistant alongside Hawke's Bay and 2015 New Zealand Barbarians coach Craig Philpott. They replace Tana Umaga who now heads the Blues Super Rugby team and Leon MacDonald, who was appointed head coach of Tasman.
"Both Willie and Craig come from excellent provincial rugby environments, and I am excited about what both will bring to our campaign," Robertson said.
The New Zealand Under 20 will play, as they did in 2015, in the Oceania tournament in Australia before preparing for the World Championship in Manchester.
Players selected to attend NZ Under 20s development camp:
Forwards: Jonah Aoina (Otago), Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Mason Kean (Hawke's Bay), Shaun Stoddart (Otago), Sean Paranihi (Canterbury), Joe Apikotoa (Wellington), Joshua Iosefo-Scott (Waikato), Sefo Kautai (Waikato), Sekope Lopeti (Waikato), Max Fryatt (Hawke's Bay), Tom Hardy (Otago), Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Hamish Dalzell (Canterbury), Anthony Pettet (Wellington), Quinten Strange (Tasman), Sam Caird (Waikato), Sam Ulufonua (Auckland), Isaia Walker-Leawere (Poverty Bay), Paripari Parkinson (Auckland), Luke Jacobson (Waikato), Lui Okeamoa-Luamanu (Wellington), Finn Hoeata (Taranaki), Caleb Aperahama (Canterbury), Jahrome Browne (Waikato), Charlie Gamble (Canterbury), Mitchell Jacobson (Waikato), Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a (North Harbour), Turoa Stephens (Waikato), Marino Mikaele-Tu'u (Hawke's Bay), Martin Brink (North Harbour), Romero Tagi (Auckland)
Backs: Liam Howley (Southland), Lisati Milo-Harris (Auckland), Logan Crowley (Canterbury), Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau), Brett Cameron (Canterbury), Matthew Lansdown (Waikato), Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau), Alex Nankivell (Tasman), Lester Maulolo (Wellington), Amanaki Savieti (Waikato), Pepe Patafilo (Wellington), Gene Te Amo (Counties Manukau), Jonah Lowe (Hawke's Bay), Hamish Pomare (Northland), Shelford Murray (Waikato), Malo Tuitama (Wellington), Mason Emerson (Hawke's Bay), Jesse Rihari (Waikato), Caleb Makene (Canterbury)
Not considered due to Super Rugby commitments were:
Leni Apisai (Wellington)
Hugh Renton (Hawke's Bay)
Sam Nock (Northland)
Sio Tomkinson (Otago)
Jordan Trainor (Waikato)
Shaun Stevenson (Waikato)
Players not considered due to injury were:
Brendan Bond (North Harbour)
Hayden Spencer (Waikato)
Ere Enari (Canterbury)
TJ Va'a (Wellington)
Harrison Levien (Waikato)
Unavailable due to school exams were:
Alex Fidow (Wellington)
Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Wellington)
Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wellington)