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New Zealand Under 20 squad named for World Rugby U20 Championship

Fresh from winning the inaugural The Rugby Championship (TRC) Under 20 tournament, the New Zealand squad for the upcoming World U20 Championships has been named.

The team heads to South Africa next month, eyeing New Zealand’s seventh title at the annual tournament.

New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Jono Gibbes has made a handful of changes to the squad that travelled to Australia, with the inclusion of All Blacks Sevens player Xavier Tito-Harris.

Joining Tito-Harris in the 30-man squad are halfback Riley Williams (Auckland) and forwards Logan Wallace (Manawatū) and Tai Cribb (Waikato).

“We could only name a 30-man squad for the World Cup and so it was important to get the balance right across different positions. The TRC gave us the experience of playing with five-day turnarounds, so we got an understanding of where our pressure points are.”

Seven players return from the 2023 campaign and Gibbes said they have stamped their mark on the squad already.

“Those returning players demonstrated leadership straight away as a group, they made a conscious effort to set things up for the new players to make sure they had a positive experience.

“They played in this tournament, in South Africa last year, so their input will be invaluable as we plan over the next few weeks,” said Gibbes.

Players have been immersed in their respective Super Rugby environments for the past two weeks, rubbing shoulders with the country’s best.

“There are obvious long-term objectives to having our players in those environments.  But in the short term our players will see what goes into making a performance. Along with all the little things that happen outside of the schedule – they get to see that first hand and learn these things don’t happen by chance.”

The squad will assemble in Wellington next week and again in Auckland before departing on 17 June.

They arrive in South Africa and will play the host nation in a warmup fixture, before playing Wales, reigning champions France and Spain in Pool A.

New Zealand Under 20 Squad: 
Tom Allen (Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay)
Jeremiah Avei-Collins (Hurricanes, Wellington)
Vernon Bason (Hurricanes, Manawatū) 
Cameron Christie (Blues, North Harbour)
Sam Coles (Hurricanes, Manawatū)
Tai Cribb (Chiefs, Waikato)
Cooper Grant (Crusaders, Tasman)
Isaac Hutchinson (Crusaders, Canterbury)
Liam Jack (Crusaders, Canterbury)
Jonathan Lee (Crusaders, Canterbury)
Manumaua Letiu (Crusaders, Canterbury)
A-One Lolofie (Highlanders, Otago)
Matt Lowe (Crusaders, Tasman)
Kurene Luamanuvae (Blues, Auckland)
William Martin (Chiefs, Waikato)
King Maxwell (Blues, Auckland)
Ben O’Donovan (Crusaders, Canterbury)
Dylan Pledger (Highlanders, Otago)
Sika Pole (Blues, Auckland)
Rico Simpson (Blues, Auckland)
Joshua Smith (Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay)
Andrew Smith (Chiefs, Waikato)
Stanley Solomon (Hurricanes, Wellington)
Xavi Taele (Blues, Auckland)
Xavier Tito-Harris (Blues, Auckland)
Aki Tuivailala (Chiefs, Waikato)
Frank Vaenuku (Chiefs, Bay of Plenty)
Logan Wallace (Hurricanes,  Manawatū)
Riley Williams (Blues, Auckland)
Malachi Wrampling (Chiefs, Waikato)

Non-Travelling Reserves: Nathaniel Pole, Josh Whaanga, Senio Sanele, Toby Bell, Tofuka Paongo, Tristyn Cook
Unavailable due to injury: Konradd Newland, Mosese Bason