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Young Hurricanes fullback who replaced Payton Spencer stars for New Zealand U20

By Kim Ekin
Harry Godfrey of the Hurricanes on attack during the round 12 Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Moana Pasifika at Sky Stadium, on May 13, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

New Zealand’s exciting prodigy Payton Spencer was injured in the first of two warm-up fixtures against the Junior Wallabies but his replacement starred in New Zealand’s 19-18 win in the second clash.


Recent Hurricanes’ debutant Harry Godfrey took over in the No 15 jersey for New Zealand and starred with three try assists in the first half, giving the home side enough to hold on for a hard-fought win.

Godfrey first found All Blacks Sevens rep Caleb Tangitau with a pinpoint cross-field kick to open the scoring for New Zealand after a tight opening twenty minutes.

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Linking on the end of the New Zealand U20 backline, Godfrey broke the tackle of wing Matias Jensen before perfectly commiting fullback Mason Gordon in a two-man tackle to free up left wing Macca Springer for walk-in try.

An offload from the ground for Tangitau set up his second, with the Blues’ right wing using a wicked right foot step to break the Aussie defence.

Despite not scoring a point in the second half, New Zealand held on for victory to bounce back and avenge Monday’s loss to the Junior Wallabies.

Godfrey’s stellar showing was a boost for the New Zealand U20 who had drafted in Sevens stars Spencer, Cody Vai, Che Clark and Tangitau for some attacking firepower.


The 20-year-old made his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes a month ago against Moana Pasifika and impressed with his speed and line running.

His experience will be vital as one of eight in the squad with Super Rugby experience along with his club teammates Raymond Tuputupu and Peter Lakai, Jack Taylor of the Highlanders, Noah Hotham, Macca Springer and Taha Kemara at the Crusaders and Caleb Tangitau of the Blues.

The New Zealand U20 have a month to prepare for the World Championships in South Africa which is the first edition of the tournament since 2019, which was one by France.



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Graeme 410 days ago

The 20s got nailed at scrum time so are gonna have to address that somehow.

Andrew 410 days ago

Where are the huge props we need? It will be ugly if that pack doesnt improve.

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Jon 5 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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