Four Canterbury players in NZ U20 squad

Four young Canterbury men will have the opportunity to compete in this year’s IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand.  They are among 28 rugby players from around the country named in the New Zealand Under 20 squad by Coach Chris Boyd.

Lincoln University loose forward Tom Sanders is the only Cantabrian to be named in the forwards.  Canterbury Head Coach and NZ Under 20 Assistant Coach Scott Robertson said Sanders is a dynamic number 8 whose athleticism and great ball carrying skills will be an asset to the team.

“Tom is a bit of a bolter to be honest.  He came into the Under 20s mix relatively recently but was impressive enough in the most recent trial game to be included in the final squad. Tom also played well for the Crusader Knights this year so I’m sure he’ll have a lot to offer,” Robertson said.

Halfback Mitchell Drummond has continued his rise up the rugby ranks with a spot in the squad. Drummond was part of last year’s champion Canterbury ITM Cup side and made his debut for the Crusaders last month.  He is the youngest player in this year’s Super Rugby competition.

“Mitchell is an intelligent and mature player.  His valuable experience will make him a key member of the leadership group in this Under 20 squad,” Robertson said.

Another player that Robertson is already very familiar with from last year’s ITM Cup is first five Richie Mo’unga.  Injuries saw him called into the Canterbury team during the Canterbury season, even though he was just one year out of high school and only in his first year at the Canterbury Rugby Academy. 

“Richie was thrown in the deep end with the Canterbury team last year but he soon proved to us that he was ready to step up to the challenge, amassing 27 points and earning player of the match in his debut game.  This will be another fantastic opportunity for Richie to step up and prove he’s got what it takes,” Robertson said.

The fourth Canterbury recruit is second five Kaveinga Finau.”Inga” plays division 1 for Linwood Rugby Club and is in his first year at the Canterbury Rugby Academy.  He previously played in the Auckland Sevens team and was cover for the Auckland ITM Cup squad last year. 

“Inga is a talented midfield back with a knack for putting people into a gap. He has a very good kicking and passing game and is an exciting player to have in the mix,” Robertson said.

Canterbury Rugby Chief Executive Hamish Riach expressed congratulations, on behalf of the CRFU, to the four Canterbury players named in the squad: “These players have a wonderful opportunity ahead of them, playing in the first Junior World Championship to be held here in New Zealand.  I have no doubt that they will do this province, and the country, proud.”

The squad will assemble prior to the IRB Junior World Championship on 20 May 2014, in Mount Maunganui. They will be based in Auckland from 29 May and play their first game against Samoa on Queen’s Birthday Monday 2 June.

Tournament schedule:
V Samoa: Monday 2 June, 7:35pm, North Harbour Stadium
V South Africa: Friday 6 June, 7:35pm, North Harbour Stadium
V Scotland: Tuesday 10 June, 7:35pm, ECOLight Stadium, Pukekoh
JWC2014 playoffs: Sunday 15 June
JWC2014 Finals: Friday 20 June