Three Blues players have been selected for the New Zealand Under 20 team to compete at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Italy next month.
Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson and Tevita Li have been selected in the 28-man squad. Blake has just returned from the Oceania Rugby Junior Championship in Australia where he co-captained the team to a three from three win record.†
Also of note is the Blues U20 and Development squad members who have made the team: Liam Polwart, Mitchell Karpik, Mitchell Hunt, Tinoai (TJ) Faiane and Isi Tu’ungafasi, the younger brother of Blues prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi, and a developing star in his own right.
Head coach Scott Robertson as well as assistant coaches Leon MacDonald and Tana Umaga will lead the team with Scott calling the Oceania tournament the perfect preparation for the World Championship.
ìWe really got to test our combinations and to put the boys under some pressure in both the tournament environment with short turn arounds between games, and the competition for positions,î he said.
They were now looking ahead to the World Championship in Italy.
ìWe’re excited to finally settle on our squad which we believe has the ability to perform at this tournament. We’ve think we’ve got the balance right between experience and talent to give us the best opportunity to do well.
ìThe World Rugby Under 20s is a unique opportunity for these boys to perform well on a world stage,î he said.
The Under 20 squad assembles on 22 May at Mt Maunganui before they depart for Italy. Tevita’s final game for the Blues will be this Friday against the Bulls at Eden Park, while Akira and Blake will be with us until the match against the Hurricanes.†
The full team selected is:
Isileli Tu’ungafasi (Prop)
Tau Koloamatangi (Prop)
Aidan Ross (Prop)
Atunaisa Moli (Prop)
Liam Polwart (Hooker)
Steven Misa (Hooker)
Ricky Riccitelli (Prop/Hooker)
Mitchell Dunshea (Lock/Loose Forward)
Geoffrey Cridge (Lock)
Joshua Goodhue (Lock)
James Blackwell (Lock)
Mitchell Jacobson (Loose Forward)
Blake Gibson (Loose Forward)
Mitchell Karpik (Loose Forward)
Akira Ioane (Loose Forward)
Henry Stowers (Loose Forward)
Harrison Levien* (Halfback)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Halfback)
Otere Black (First-five-eighth)
Mitchell Hunt (First-five-eighth)
Tinoai (TJ) Faiane (Midfield)
Jack Goodhue (Midfield)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Midfield)
Nathaniel Apa (Wing/Midfield)
Tevita Li (Wing)
Vincent Tavae-Aso (Wing)
George Bridge (Fullback)
Luteru Laulala (Fullback)