Put the cake on hold and just get the win.

Those are Jack Goodhue's birthday wishes. The New Zealand Under 20s midfielder, along with his twin brother, lock Josh, will - metaphorically - blow out 20 candles on June 13, two days before what will be, one would hope, a World Rugby Under 20 Championship semifinal in Italy.

Jack Goodhue, whose birth name is Elias, should have little problem dealing with the big stage. In 2013, he was man of the match in a televised First XV fixture, scoring a fine try for Mt Albert Grammar in a 13-10 win over King's. Last season he was down in Canterbury, creating a favourable impression in five ITM Cup games, where he scored two tries. As recently as February, he was in the All Blacks Sevens for two tournaments in Wellington and Las Vegas, playing alongside his old Auckland Grammar midfield foe Rieko Ioane.

It has been a steady rugby rise from being MAGS' head boy in 2013, having come down to the bright lights from Kawakawa. Though he enjoyed the sevens scene, the Under 20s was always his main goal.


"I had to make a decision, as I couldn't do both. It was something I could only do once, to go away with a bunch of guys my age. It was going to be good for me in areas like leadership. I can always go back to sevens," said Goodhue.

His pathway is one that is being increasingly trodden, as boys who stand out in the First XV, especially in Auckland's 1A system, move into their provinces and, if they are good enough, the New Zealand Under 20s.

"The 1A is a standard of footy that can't be matched, really, just with the quality of players in the Auckland region. It was the best decision for Josh and I to go to MAGS for our schooling and rugby."

He has fitted in three games in 2015 with his Lincoln University club, which, much like Waikato University in 2014, has counted no less than five of the Under 20s. The two Goodhues are joined by Mitch Dunshea, while Tom Hill and Hamish Dalzell were late omissions from the final cut.

The Under 20s' backline is full of versatility and interchangeability, but Goodhue's hopes of a starting berth, likely at centre rather than one-in, are helped by the late withdrawal of Anton Lienert-Brown and the unavailability of Rieko Ioane. Goodhue lined up outside Auckland's TJ Faiane, another old First XV foe, against the Chiefs Development XV on Monday, and saw plenty of game time in the Oceania Junior Championship earlier this month. The likes of Vince Aso and Nathaniel Apa can also slot into the midfield too.

"He's a good player," says New Zealand assistant coach Leon MacDonald of Goodhue.

"He's got a left boot, too, which is handy. He's a big lad, around 100kg, and a strong defender. I can see why there's a lot of interest around the country in his playing ability."
Goodhue, like all the team, is champing at the bit to launch into the campaign and Italian culture.

"You can tell the boys from last year are going over there with a purpose. They are focused on the task at hand."

Those birthday celebrations can wait, though, and on the night of the final on June 20, that cake may just taste even sweeter and richer.