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Super Rugby and 7s talent on show as NZ U20s name team for opener

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The New Zealand U20s have named a star-studded side for their World Rugby U20 Championship opener against Wales which includes some talented players with Super Rugby experience.

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Crusaders halfback Noah Hotham will captain the side against Wales U20, and will partner another member of the champion franchise in the halves – that being Baby Blacks vice-captain Taha Kemara.

Fullback Harry Godfrey is another member of the backline who starred in Super Rugby Pacific this season, having impressed for the Hurricanes against Moana Pasifika in round 12.

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Godfrey actually played eight matches for the Canes this season, and started two of those games in the No. 15 jersey.

Fellow Hurricanes star Peter Lakai will pack down at No. 8 for the Baby Blacks, and joins All Blacks Sevens representative Che Clarke in the back row.

Going through the team, coach Clark Laidlaw has named the menacing front row trio of loosehead Ben Ake, Highlanders hooker Jack Taylor, and tighthead Siale Lauaki.

Taylor Cahill, who won the AFL New Zealand Rising star award for round one in the 2021 season, joins Otago talent Will Stodart in the second row.

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Along with Che Clark and vice-captain Peter Lakai, Sam Hainsworth-Fa’aofo will pack down in the backrow – starting at openside flanker.

Outside the extremely exciting halves duo of Hotham and Kemara is Ajay Faleafaga and Aki Tuivailala in the midfield.

Crusaders winger Macca Springer will start on the left, while Auckland’s Caleb Tangitau has been named on the right.

Another All Blacks Sevens player in Codemeru Vai will look to provide some impact off the bench.

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The match between the Baby Blacks and Wales U20 will kick-off at 2.00 am (NZST) on Sunday (4pm SAT on Saturday) at Paarl Gymnasium.

New Zealanders can watch the match live and exclusive on Sky Sport.

New Zealand U20s to take on Wales U20s

  1. Ben Ake
  2. Jack Taylor
  3. Siale Lauaki
  4. Tahlor Cahill
  5. Will Stodart
  6. Che Clark
  7. Sam Hainsworth-Fa’aofo
  8. Peter Lakai (vc)
  9. Noah Hotham (c)
  10. Taha Kemara (vc)
  11. Macca Springer
  12. Ajay Faleafaga
  13. Aki Tuivailala
  14. Caleb Tangitau
  15. Harry Godfrey

Replacements:

  1. Raymond Tuputupu
  2. Malakai Hala
  3. Gabe Robinson
  4. Tom Allen
  5. Malachi Wrampling-Alec
  6. Jordi Viljoen
  7. Leo Gordon
  8. Codemeru Vai
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1 Comment
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Andrew 395 days ago

"the menacing front row trio of loosehead Ben Ake, Highlanders hooker Jack Taylor, and tighthead Siale Lauaki."

Menacing? Is this the front row that tge AusU20s absolutely owned in that recent 2 match series? Or are they a completely different lot?

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Jon 4 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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