Size does matter, but not as much as speed when it comes to this year’s crop of Australian U20s.
The Aussies are set to line up in the Oceania Championships in April, playing against New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa, in what new coach Simon Cron says will effectively be a Rugby World Cup trial.
Cron and his assistants have been watching the Super U20s Championship closely to pick the next crop of players, with a certain style in mind.
“The type of rugby we want to play is expansive and fast,” he said.
“Guys who aren’t quick off the ground and who are just big, that doesn’t really cut it anymore." - Simon Cron
“We’ve got to make sure we’re selecting around the type of rugby we want to play.”
Creating depth is also a priority for Cron, as they look to build the strength of the next generation of Australian players.
“The big thing is we need to coach four deep in every position because all it takes is one hamstring and we’re down to our third or fourth hooker.”
Last year’s Oceania Championship threw up a thrilling Australian win over New Zealand, but Cron was quick to warn that they wouldn’t be riding any early success too much ahead of the Georgia World Cup later this year.
Australia finished sixth in the U20s World Championship less than three months after that victory, losing to the Junior All Blacks in the fifth-place playoff.
“They win over New Zealand - did it replicate in the World Cup in terms of winning?," he said.
“Fiji and Samoa will be good sides too and there are challenges in playing them and we need to make sure we do everything properly.
“I don’t care who we come up against at the World Cup, I don’t want us to be overawed, we’ve got to stick to our processes and execute on our side of the field.” - Simon Cron
“To be honest, it’s a trial period,” Cron added.
“It’s our first games we’ll have a wider training squad, look at different combos how they function.
“We need to give players enough minutes to execute patterns in defence and stuff we’ve set up.
“We need to treat it as a three-match trial game but at the same time we want to win every game we don’t go into it wanting to lose.”
2017 Oceania Rugby U20s Championship at Bond University, Gold Coast
Round 1, Friday April 28
New Zealand vs Fiji, 5pm AEST
Australia vs Samoa, 7pm AEST
Round 2, Tuesday May 2
New Zealand v Samoa, 3pm AEST
Australia v Fiji, 5pm AEST
Round 3, Saturday May 6
Samoa vs Fiji, 5pm AEST
Australia vs New Zealand, 7pm AEST