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Cruden, Moli and Reihana named in All Blacks Under 20 training squad

By Tom Vinicombe
Waikato centre Quinn Tupaea in action for the New Zealand Under 20 side. (Photo by Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images)

Fifty-two of New Zealand’s top emerging talent in rugby will descend on Palmerston North next month as New Zealand Rugby launches the next phase of its development programme to find a World Champion New Zealand Under 20 team to compete at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Italy in July.


After dominating the age-grade competition for the first four years of its existence, the Baby Blacks have managed just two titles between 2012 and 2018 and finished in 7th place last year.

As such, NZR have updated the selection process to include multiple trials in the lead-up to team selection, with over 100 players attending the first training camp in November.

The latest camp sees a number of well-known rugby names vying for spots in the squad that will travel to Italy later in the year.

First five Stu Cruden, flanker Taine Plumtree, flanker Robert Rush and props Hamdahn Tuipulotu and Monu Moli all have family that should be well-known to the New Zealand public.

Continue reading below…

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Aaron Cruden (Stu’s brother), Xavier Rush (Robert’s father), Patrick Tuipulotu (Hamdahn’s brother) and Atu Moli (Monu’s brother) have all represented the All Blacks while John Plumtree (Taine’s father) was head coach of the Hurricanes in 2019 and has now joined the All Blacks coaching set-up.

A number of last year’s Under 20 side could also be set for a second World Championship with the team.

Prop Fletcher Newell, locks Tupou Vaa’i and Plumtree, loose forward Simon Parker, halfback Taufa Funaki and first five Rivez Reihana all represented New Zealand at the 2019 tournament.

Coach Craig Philpott is appreciative of the new selection process.


“It’s widened our base and created a really competitive environment,” said Philpott. “With that has come a good selection dilemma because outside the 52 we have named today, there are another 20 players on a shortlist that could easily have been selected.”

The development camp begins with expert coaches focussing on set-piece work with forwards, and a focus on game drivers for halfbacks, first five-eighth and fullbacks. An additional eight players will join triallists for these sessions.

The camp concludes with skillset testing, game plan development and scenarios.

A second trial camp will be held in April before a squad is named for the Oceania Under 20 Championship.


Hamdahn Tuipulotu (Auckland)
Soane Vikena (Auckland)
Terrell Peita (Auckland)
Benet Kumeroa (Bay of Plenty)
Finlay Brewis (Canterbury)
Tamaiti Williams (Canterbury)
Fletcher Newell (Canterbury)
Thomas Edwards (Canterbury)
Lockie McNair (Canterbury)
Sam Darry (Canterbury)

Mahonri Ngakuru (Canterbury)
Zach Gallagher (Canterbury)
Ioane Moananu (Counties Manukau)
Jimmy Roots (North Harbour)
Robert Rush (Northland)
Saula Mau (Otago)
Jake Russ (Otago)
Tupou Vaa’i (Taranaki)
Josh Lord (Taranaki)

Anton Segner (Tasman)
Tom Martin (Waikato)
Simon Parker (Waikato)
Tyrone Thompson (Wellington)
Caleb Delany (Wellington)
Taine Plumtree (Wellington)
Iona Apineru (Wellington)
Josh Southall (Wellington)
Sam Smith (Wellington)
Shamus Hurley-Langton (Wellington)


Taufa Funaki (Auckland)
Zarn Sullivan (Auckland)
Corey Evans (Auckland)
Lemeki Namoa (Auckland)
Meihana Grindlay (Auckland)
Heremaia Murray (Auckland)
Cassius Misa (Bay of Plenty)
Peni Lasaqa (Bay of Plenty)
Luke Donaldson (Canterbury)
Chay Fihaki (Canterbury)

Isaiah Punivai (Canterbury)
Cam Roigard (Counties Manukau)
Stu Cruden (Manawatu)
Josiah Maruku (Manawatu)
Drew Wild (Manawatu)
James Arscott (Otago)
Harrison Boyle (Otago)
Lukas Halls (Taranaki)
Rivez Reihana (Waikato)
Gideon Wrampling (Waikato)
Aiden Morgan (Wellington)
Roderick Solo (Wellington)
Ruben Love (Wellington)

Players attending the set-piece or game drivers camps: George Bell (Canterbury), Latrell Smiler Ah Kiong (Hawke’s Bay), Ben Strang (Manawatu), Tevita Langi (North Harbour), Matt Graham Williams (Tasman), Luka Inch (Tasman), Monu Moli (Tasman) and Havila Molia (Waikato)

– with NZ Rugby

New Zealand Rugby is set to review its controversial All Blacks rest policy:

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