New Zealand Under 20 Head Coach Tabai Matson has today named 30 players in the 2021 national squad.
Seven of those selected are from the Hurricanes region: Ruben Love, Aidan Morgan, Peter Lakai, Riley Higgins (all Wellington), TK Howden, Joseph Gavigan (Manawatu) and Harry Godfrey (Hawke's Bay).
The squad features several players with Super Rugby experience, and more than half have graduated from the New Zealand Schools programme.
Matson said the level of talent on display at the Bunnings Super Rugby Aotearoa Under 20 tournament meant selectors had tough decisions to make.
“The talent we saw in Taupō was outstanding. We have a real range of players; for some guys this will be their first black jersey and the culmination of a lot of years of hard work and then there’s guys like Ruben Love who has been starting at first five for the Hurricanes.
“There are also some very good rugby players that went close but have missed out and I have no doubt will go on to be very good rugby players,” said Matson.
The Under 20 schedule for 2021 is yet to be confirmed but Matson said they are hopeful for some Oceania matches.
“The aim is two-fold, I have a clear remit to develop professional rugby players and our group of coaches need to provide a platform for these players to go to the next level, but also whenever you put on a black jersey there is expectation that you perform well so we really want to do that.”
Among the 30 players selected are five who have featured in Super Rugby Aotearoa, Chay Fihaki (Crusaders), Gideon Wrampling (Chiefs), Josh Lord (Chiefs), Ruben Love (Hurricanes) and Soane Vikena (Blues). 12 players NPC.
The New Zealand Under 20 squad is;