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By ARU Media Unit
• Australian U20s squad to feature three Super Rugby players
• ARU National Academy delivers 19 representatives
• Eight members of the Australian U20s 2012 campaign return
• Six 2012 Australian Schoolboys earn selection
• Queensland Reds’ Curtis Browning to skipper his country
Queensland Reds flanker, Curtis Browning, has been appointed captain of Australia’s 28-man Under-20s squad for the IRB Junior World Championship being held in France in June.
This will be Browning’s second year at the Junior World Championship, after he made his U20s debut at last year’s tournament in South Africa.
A shining light of Australia’s 2012 Junior World Championship campaign, Browning was crowned the Australian Under-20s Player of the Year at the annual John Eales Medal evening last November.
Browning’s appointment is just one of a number of stories to arise from the naming of coaches Adrian Thompson and Sean Hedger’s 28-man squad.
Head coach Thompson said selections were heavily influenced by the demanding nature of the tournament, which includes short turnarounds between matches.
“We’ve picked good footy players, but also guys that can cope with the demands of the tournament,” Thompson said.
“The guys have to be very thorough in their off-field preparation and pretty mentally tough. The tournament does take a toll on the players, so we looked for guys that could handle that.”
Thompson said he hoped the players would grasp their opportunity to represent Australia and make the most of it.
“This is a very important tournament for the guys and their development,” Thompson said.
“They have a chance here to represent their country and after the Under 20s, the only opportunity to do that is with the Qantas Wallabies or the Qantas Men’s Sevens, so they need to treat that chance like gold.”
Thomson and Hedger announced the squad following three selection camps, which saw more than 50 players participate over the past few months.
The squad features a broad range of experience, including previous World Championship representatives, Australian Schoolboys, National Academy and Super Rugby players.
All three Super Rugby players hail from the Queensland Reds. Browning has featured with the Super Rugby side after being brought in as injury cover for Beau Robinson, Chris Feauai-Sautia has been a regular member of his side’s 22 this season and Ulupano Seuteni is in his second year as a member of the Reds Extended Playing Squad.
The squad features eight members from last year’s Australian Under 20s, including the three Reds, Allan Alaalatoa, Oliver Hoskins, Silatolu Latu, Jock Merriman and Maile Nguamo.
Several Australian Schoolboys have continued their development pathway, with 2012 touring members Jack Dempsey, Siotome Kavapalu, Jake McIntyre, Matt Philip, Tom Staniforth and Jonah Placid all getting selected for this year’s Australian Under 20s.
In addition, two players with previous international Under-20 experience have been selected for Australia, with Samu Kerevi (Fiji) and Senio Toleafoa (Samoa) both set to represent a second country at the age-grade level.
Unlike last year’s team, Australian Sevens players were unavailable for selection due to Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 also taking place in June.
The Australian Under 20s will meet New Zealand, Fiji and Ireland in pool play at the Junior World Championship and Thompson knows how tough the competition will be.
“Ireland had a reasonable 6 Nations, so they’ve had some really good preparation and have played a lot together,” Thompson said.
“New Zealand have won the tournament every year except for last year, so they’re always strong and Fiji finished third in their pool and went on to beat Italy, so it’s certainly a difficult pool.”
The Australian Under-20 squad for the IRB Junior World Championship enters its first preparation camp at Bond University in the first week of May. They will face Papua New Guinea’s national team in a trial on Thursday 2 May at 3:00pm at Bond University.
The IRB Junior World Championship runs 5-23 June in France.
Australian Under-20 IRB Junior World Championship squad
Allan Alaalatoa* **
Mark Baldwin **
Curtis Browning (C) *
University of Queensland
University RC WA
Jack Dempsey * **
Chris Feauai-Sautia *
Oliver Hoskins * **
Siotome Kavapalu *
Samu Kerevi **
GPS Old Boys
Phill Kite * **
Jake McIntyre * **
Jock Merriman * **
Maile Ngauamo * **
Alex Northam * **
Harry Parker **
Matt Philip * **
Jonah Placid * **
Andrew Ready **
Ulupano Seuteni *
Patrick Sio **
Thomas Staniforth * **
Henry Taefu **
Michael Wells * **
Waldo Wessels * **
*Denotes members who progressed through ARU National Gold Squad
** Denotes current members of ARU National Academy
Australian Under-20 staff
Strength and conditioning coach