The Australian Under 20’s extended squad will play in the 2015 Oceania Rugby Championship on the Gold Coast in May, as players in the 29-man squad push for a spot in the final Australian team to go to the World Championship.
With the World Rugby Under 20’s Championships taking centre stage in Italy later this year, the Gold Coast tournament forms a crucial selection tool for Head Coach Adrian Thompson and local talent Harry Nucifora is looking to make the most of the home ground advantage.
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity, especially on the home ground. Hopefully I’ll get a few of my local mates to come down and watch,” Harry said.
The tournament will see the Australian Under 20’s players take on the best young talent from Samoa, Japan and New Zealand, as they look to gain a psychological advantage ahead of the World Rugby Under 20’s Championship.
Nucifora, who currently plays halfback for Bond University, is one of ten Queenslanders in the initial squad and believes the Australian squad is full of talent.
“To get as many Queensland boys in the team is great, but we also have some New South Welshman who are really good players and they showed that in the recent tournament, when they won it back-to-back,” he said.
The Nucifora name is no stranger to the gold jersey. Harry’s uncle, David Nucifora, was a former Queensland and Wallabies hooker, and was part of 1991 World Cup Wining side who beat England in a nail-biting 12-6 win.
After his playing days, David Nucifora has filled a number of roles within Rugby, including a three-year stint as Brumbies Coach, where he led the ACT side to a premiership in 2004.
Harry said that his family connection with Rugby, has played a huge role in his journey to date.
“My families pretty heavily involved in the sport, I was brought up with it since I was six-years-old, so it runs pretty deep. My uncle David Nucifora played for Australia as a hooker back in the early 90s and was an ARU High Performance Manger a couple of years back. He’s now over in Ireland in a similar role,” Harry said.
“When I get the chance to speak to David these days he gives me a few tips here and there, especially around getting back to basics.”
“As a little kid, growing up watching the Wallabies on TV, it was always a dream to play for your country and obviously to keep it in the family tradition would be pretty cool.”
While the young halfback isn’t getting ahead of himself, a chance to book a seat on the plane to Italy later in the year would be a dream come true for the Gold Coast local.
“Even playing on the Gold Coast is special, but to have the opportunity to go to Italy and play for your country in a World Cup would be an awesome experience. There are lots of things to look forward to in the future but also a lot of hard work to come at the same time.”
For the full Australian U20s squad click here.
Oceania Rugby Under 20s Championship, Bond University, Gold Coast
Friday 1 May, Australia v Samoa, 3:00pm
Tuesday 5 May, Australia v Japan, 3:00pm
Saturday 9 May, Australia v New Zealand, 3:00pm