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Junior Wallabies side named for first-ever round of U20 Rugby Championship

By Finn Morton
Australia line up for the national anthem during the match between New Zealand U20 and the Junior Wallabies at NZCIS on May 29, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Brumbies lock Toby Macpherson will lead the Junior Wallabies into battle on Thursday evening when the Australians take on Argentina in the opening round of the first-ever U20 Rugby Championship.

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Macpherson, who started in the No.4 jersey against traditional rivals New Zealand at the World Rugby U20 Championship last year, will serve as skipper while Ronna Leahy is the team’s vice-captain.

Recent Super Rugby Pacific debutant Jack Barrett will pack down in the front-row along with the Waratahs’ Bryn Edwards and the Brumbies’ Tevita Alatini.

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Captain Macpherson joins fellow-ACT-based second-rower Harvey Cordukes in the run-on side, while backrowers Aden Ekanayake, Joe Liddy and Jack Harley round out the forward pack.

Blindside flanker Ekanayake is one to look out for with the loose forward having been identified as a potential prospect of the Australian sevens side.

In the backs, Western Force halfback Doug Phillipson joins the Rebels’ in the halves, while vice-captain Leahy and the Brumbies’ Jarrah McLeod are the two starting midfielders.

The Reds have two wingers in the starting side with Xavier Rubens set to wear the No.11 jumper while Will McCulloch gets a start on the right. Shane Wilcox is the Junior Wallabies’ fullback.

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There are three Waratahs on the bench, as well as two players from the Reds and Brumbies, and finally one member of the Rebels in Nick Bloomfield.

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“We’re excited to see what these 23 young men bring to the gold jersey,” coach Nathan Grey said in a statement.

“This first game against Argentina is going to be a real challenge but we’ve prepared well.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to test new combinations and launch our TRC U20 campaign.”

The Junior Wallabies take on Argentina at 7 pm local time at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Thursday, May 2. Stan Sport will broadcast the fixture in Australia.

Australia U20 to take on Argentina

  1. Jack Barrett
  2. Bryn Edwards
  3. Tevita Alatini
  4. Toby Macpherson (c)
  5. Harvey Cordukes
  6. Aden Ekanayake
  7. Joe Liddy
  8. Jack Harley
  9. Doug Phillipson
  10. Joey Fowler
  11. Xavier Rubens
  12. Ronan Leahy (vc)
  13. Jarrah McLeod
  14. Will McCulloch
  15. Shane Willcox

Replacements

  1. Nathaniel Tiitii
  2. Tavi Tuipulotu
  3. Nick Bloomfield
  4. Ben Daniels
  5. Ben Di Staso
  6. Hwi Sharples
  7. Cullen Gray
  8. Angus Staniforth
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