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New Zealand U20 make seven changes to play Argentina

By Ben Smith
New Zealand perform the Haka before The Rugby Championship U20 Round 1 match between New Zealand and South Africa at Sunshine Coast Stadium on May 02, 2024 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

New Zealand U20 head coach Jono Gibbes has made seven changes to the side that drew 13-all with South Africa U20 in torrential conditions on Thursday night.

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Argentina were impressive in a comprehensive win over Australia, making the fixture a crunch match with a log winner takes all system.

Whoever finishes top after the three round-robin games will claim the trophy.

Headlining the changes are a new starting halves combination, halfback Dylan Pledger and first five Rico Simpson. The pair played the majority of the second half against South Africa with Simpson integral to setting up two tries with his long pass.

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Wellington second five-eighth Tofuka Paongo, who was initially named as a non-travelling reserve, comes into the midfield and will line up along side vice captain Xavi Taele who moves out to centre.

King Maxwell has been named on the right wing, with Frank Vaenuku moving to the left to replace Stanley Solomon. Sam Coles replaces Isaac Hutchinson at fullback.

In the forwards, Cam Christie starts at lock with Tom Allen moving to the bench. In the back row, Crusader Johnny Lee also moves to the bench with Matt Lowe starts at openside flanker.

The team play on Tuesday at 7pm NZT.

New Zealand U20 team to play Argentina U20:

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1. Will Martin (Chiefs, Waikato)
2. Vernon Bason (Hurricanes, Manawat?) (c)
3. Joshua Smith (Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay)
4. Cam Christie (Blues, North Harbour)
5. Liam Jack (Crusaders, Canterbury)
6. Andrew Smith (Chiefs, Waikato)
7. Matt Lowe (Crusaders, Tasman)
8. Malachi Wrampling (Chiefs, Waikato)
9. Dylan Pledger (Highlanders, Otago)
10. Rico Simpson (Blues, Auckland)
11. Frank Vaenuku (Chiefs, Bay of Plenty)
12. Tofuka Paongo (Hurricanes, Wellington)
13. Xavi Taele (Blues, Auckland) (vc)
14. King Maxwell (Blues, Auckland)
15. Sam Coles (Hurricanes, Manawat?)

Reserves:

16. Manumaua Letiu (Crusaders, Canterbury)
17. Sika Pole (Blues, Auckland)
18. Kurene Luamanuvae (Blues, Auckland)
19. Tom Allen (Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay)
20. Johnny Lee (Crusaders, Canterbury)
21. Ben O’Donovan (Crusaders, Canterbury)
22. Cooper Grant (Crusaders, Tasman)
23. Josh Whaanga (Highlanders, Otago)

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