German-born teenager and Super Rugby stars headline 2021 New Zealand U20 squad
New Zealand U20 head coach Tabai Matson announced his squad on Tuesday and has included five players with Super Rugby Aotearoa experience.
Furthermore, Taranaki wing Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, who is under contract with the Blues, has also been named in the squad, as has Otago loose forward Sean Withy, who was called into the Highlanders squad as injury cover earlier this year.
Withy was a standout for the Highlanders U20 side in the inaugural edition of Super Rugby Aotearoa U20 last month, claiming competition’s MVP award.
His inclusion in the squad helps form a strong loose forward contingent that also boasts Segner, the German-born flanker who has previously represented New Zealand Schools and made his provincial debut for Tasman last year.
The Frankfurt-born 19-year-old has spoken openly of his All Blacks aspirations and is held in high regard by many throughout New Zealand.
Other notable names in the national youth side include Hurricanes U20 trio Aidan Morgan, Riley Higgins and Harry Godfrey, all of whom combined spectacularly from first-five, second-five and fullback, respectively, at the national U2o tournament in Taupo.
Crusaders U20 hooker George Bell was another who caught the eye during the week-long event at Owen Delaney Park, as did Highlanders U20 halfback Nathan Hastie.
Matson said he was impressed by the talent on show during last month’s showcase and was excited by the quality on offer throughout his squad.
“The talent we saw in Taupo was outstanding,” he said.
“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.”
The Under 20 schedule for 2021 is yet to be confirmed, but Matson said they are hopeful for matches against Australia.
“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.”
2021 New Zealand U20 squad
Sione Ahio (Auckland)
Vaiolini Ekuasi (Auckland)
Corey Evans (Auckland)
Josh Fusitua (Auckland)
Meihana Grindlay (Auckland)
Manu Paea (Auckland)
Soane Vikena (Auckland)
George Bell (Canterbury)
Chay Fihaki (Canterbury)
Zach Gallagher (Canterbury)
Dom Gardiner (Canterbury)
Jack Sexton (Canterbury)
Harry Godfrey (Hawke’s Bay)
Joseph Gavigan (Manawatu)
TK Howden (Manawatu)
Nathan Hastie (Otago)
Fabian Holland (Otago)
Sean Withy (Otago)
Josh Lord (Taranaki)
Nathaniel Peters (Taranaki)
Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens (Taranaki)
Luca Inch (Tasman)
Anton Segner (Tasman)
Tepaea Cook-Savage (Waikato)
Cortez Lee-Ratima (Waikato)
Gideon Wrampling (Waikato)
Riley Higgins (Wellington)
Peter Lakai (Wellington)
Ruben Love (Wellington)
Aidan Morgan (Wellington)
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