ACT Brumbies rookie Tom Staniforth has been given the honour of captaining the National Australian Under 20s side in their first international fixture of 2014 against Samoa Under 20s at Bond University on Wednesday April 30 (kick-off 3:00pm).
Staniforth, who made his debut for the Brumbies earlier this year, will captain a side that also boasts fellow 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby contracted players Luke Burton of the Western Force, Jonah Placid of St.George Queensland Reds and David Horwitz of the NSW Waratahs.
NSW has the highest representation for the side’s first match of 2014 with ten representatives, followed by Queensland (five), Western Australia (four), ACT (three), and Victoria (one).
The match is the first of four games to be played by the Aussies over the coming month as they continue preparations for the IRB Junior World Championships in Auckland in June.
Their other matches include a second contest against Samoa on Saturday 3 May before a squad of 28 players will be chosen to represent Australia at the World Championships and also to play lead-up games against NSW Country on Saturday 24 May and the Australian Barbarians on Tuesday 27 May.
Australian Under 20s coach Adrian Thompson said individual performances in the upcoming clash against Samoa would be critical in finalising his squad.
“The entire squad has been working incredibly hard over the last week during camp and there are a number of key selection battles in a number of positions,” Thompson said.
“We have a number of strong leaders in the group but Tom Staniforth is well placed to lead the side into the match considering the excellent output he has put into previous camps and with the Brumbies as well.
“Samoa is always a physical opponent, although that challenge is ideal as we look to test ourselves ahead of the Championships later in the year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how individuals step up and take advantage of the opportunities they are being given in this game.”
The Australian Under 20s have been preparing for tomorrow’s match with a seven-day camp on the Gold Coast, which has included 34 players.
The National Australian Under 20s side to play Samoa Under 20s at Bond University on Wednesday 30 April is:
1. Rory O’Connor (NSW)
2. Harry Scoble (WA)
3. Tom Robertson (NSW)
4. Tom Staniforth (c) (ACT)
5. Jack Payne (QLD)
6. Sam Croke (NSW)
7. Rowan Perry (ACT)
8. Lolo Fakaosilea (QLD)
9. Joe Powell (ACT)
10. Andrew Deegan (NSW)
11. Brad Lacey (WA)
12. Luke Burton (vc) (WA)
13. Lalakai Foketi (VIC)
14. Sasa Tofilau (NSW)
15. Jonah Placid (QLD)
16. David Vea (NSW)
17. Cameron Orr (NSW)
18. Alifeliti Kaitu’u (QLD)
19. Ross Haylett-Petty (WA)
20. Pat Sio (NSW)
21. Angus Pulver (NSW)
22. David Horwitz (NSW)
23. Tom Banks (QLD)