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New Zealand Under 20 team named for campaign opener

New Zealand Under 20 team named for campaign opener

All BlacksJune 29, 2024

The New Zealand Under 20s will kick off their World Rugby Under 20 Championship campaign this weekend against Wales.

Coach Jono Gibbes has opted for consistency and strength in the match day squad.

The team is:

1. Will Martin
2. Vernon Bason – captain
3. Josh Smith
4. Tom Allen
5. Liam Jack
6. Tai Cribb
7. Matt Lowe
8. Johnny Lee
9. Dylan Pledger
10. Rico Simpson
11. Stanley Solomon
12. Xavi Taele
13. Aki Tuivailala
14. Frank Vaenuku
15. Sam Coles

16. A-One Lolofie
17. Sika Pole
18. Logan Wallace
19. Cameron Christie
20. Jeremiah Avei-Collins
21. Riley Williams
22. Cooper Grant
23. Xavier Tito-Harris
  

The squad arrived in South Africa last week and were able to get a warmup match against the hosts under their belt in the lead up to tomorrow’s opener.

“I’m really pleased we arrived when we did so we could acclimatise, and then having a full contact hit out really blew the cobwebs out. We were a bit clunky which was to be expected but it will hold us in good stead,” said Gibbes.

Vernon Bason, in his second World Rugby Under 20 Championship campaign will captain the team from the front row, while midfielder Xavi Taele has been named as vice-captain.

All Blacks Sevens rising star Xavier Tito-Harris has been named on the bench.

“Xavier can cover wing and midfield so he gives us the opportunity to have an impact either on the edges or up the middle. He’s very sharp on his feet and decisive with ball in hand so can create quickly for himself and others,” said Gibbes.

Speaking of their opposition, Gibbes expects a well-rounded team.

“We’ve watched them through the Six Nations and what we’ve seen is a good mix; strong set piece play but also really strong play through the midfield and speed on the edge.”

The team have met 10 times at World Rugby Under 20 tournaments, with New Zealand winning eight of those encounters.

Broadcast:

The World U20 Championship matches will all be broadcast live on Sky Sport in New Zealand.

The World U20 Championship schedule (times in NZT): 
New Zealand v Wales
Sunday 30 June, kick off 5am

New Zealand v France
Friday 5 July, kick off 2.30am

New Zealand v Spain
Wednesday 10 July, 5am

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