Eleven players from the Blues region have been selected in a 52-strong squad selected for the New Zealand Under-20 camp in Palmerston North next month.
This is the first step towards selecting the team to compete at July’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy.
The 11 Blues region players include Blues ITC players, who trained through the pre-season with the club, in Auckland’s Soane Vikena (pictured), Taufa Funaki and Zarn Sullivan.
The other Blues players to attend the camp comprise Northland’s Robert Rush, North Harbour’s Jimmy Roots and Aucklanders Hamdahn Tuipulotu (brother of Blues captain Patrick), Terrell Peita, Corey Evans, Lemeki Namoa, Meihana Grindly and Heremaia Murray.
The 52 players were selected after more than 100 players were tested in November.
“It’s widened our base and created a really competitive environment,” said New Zealand Under 20 head Coach, Craig Philpott. “With that has come a good selection dilemma because outside the 52 that we have named, there are another 20 players on a shortlist that could easily have been selected.”
The development camp next month also includes expert coaching focussed on set-piece work with forwards and a focus on game drivers for halfbacks, first fives and fullbacks. North Harbour’s Tevita Langi is one of eight additional players to attend the set piece camp.