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Southlanders named in NZ U20 rugby team

Two Southland players have been named in the New Zealand under 20 rugby team for next month's Oceania Championship in Australia.

Former Southland Boys' High School team mates Flynn Thomas and Jay Renton both made their debuts for the Stags last year.

Thomas was the understudy for Southland skipper Brayden Mitchell last year, while Renton was not contracted at the start of the season but claimed his opportunity when injury struck both Liam Howley and Jahvis Wallace, ending the campaign as the Stags' starting No 9.

New Zealand under 20 head coach Craig Philpott told that more than 60 players had been involved in the camps to this point, which makes final selection a tough process.

“We feel we have selected a team that is capable of playing the New Zealand brand of rugby. This is a skilful group of well-conditioned athletes who are also good young men,” said Philpott.

Canterbury’s Tom Christie will captain the team. The loose forward was a member of the 2017 World Championship winning squad, has Mitre 10 Cup experience and spent time with the Crusaders during the pre-season.

"Tom understands what is required to be involved in a successful World Championship campaign. He comes out of a strong professional environment and is a quality leader who we are confident will meet the challenge head on.”

Alongside Christie, there are five returning players who played in the Oceania Championships last year, as well as six players who will be eligible again in 2019.

The squad will assemble in Auckland next month before departing for the Gold Coast on 24 April.

“This tournament is crucial in our World Championship preparation. It’s the opportunity to take the group away for two weeks, get to know them more closely and for them to understand the responsibilities that come with wearing the black jersey.

“It also sees us play three games in 12 days which mirrors pool play in the World Championship so that helps players to understand what is required in terms of recovery and self-management,” said Philpott.

The Oceania Rugby Under 20 Championship will see New Zealand play matches against Tonga (27 April), Fiji (1 May) and Australia (5 May). The team will be looking to claim the fifth title in as many years.

The World Rugby Under 20 Championship kicks off in France in May. New Zealand will face Japan, Wales and Australia in pool play.

The squad is;
Forwards: <
John Akau'ola-Laula  - Auckland

Suetena Asomua -  Counties Manukau

Tom Christie (Captain) -  Canterbury

Rob Cobb -  Auckland

Devan Flanders -  Hawke's Bay

Tom Florence -  Taranaki

Ricky Jackson - Otago

Tevita Mafileo - Bay of Plenty

Laghlan McWhannell - Waikato

Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa - Auckland

Bradley Slater - Taranaki

Hoskins Sotutu - Auckland

Flynn Thomas - Southland

Will Tucker - Canterbury

Kaliopasi Uluilakepa - Wellington


Leicester Faingaanuku  - Tasman

Will Jordan  - Tasman

Vilimoni Koroi  - Otago

Ciarahn Matoe  - Taranaki

Harry Plummer  - Auckland

Carlos Price  - Wellington

Billy Proctor - Wellington

Ngane Punivai  - Canterbury

Jay Renton  - Southland

Xavier Roe - Waikato

Bailyn Sullivan - Waikato

Tanielu Tele'a - Auckland

Kaleb Trask - Bay of Plenty

2- 3 players to be named

Players not considered due to Super Rugby commitments

Caleb Clarke - Blues

Players not considered due to injury

Tim Farrell - Hawke's Bay

Brayden Iose -  Manawatu

Ajay Mua - Bay of Plenty

Xavier Numia - Wellington

Cameron Suafoa - Auckland

Sheldon Tovio - Waikato

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