Lonergan returns to face Kiwis

Oceanic U20s Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Junior Wallabies halfback Ryan Lonergan will finally run out as the team's captain, when they face New Zealand in the Oceania U20s finale.

Lonergan missed the opening matches with muscle soreness, but will be fighting fit for the title-deciding clash on the Gold Coast, one of nine changes across the 23.

Coach Jason Gilmore is bringing back much of the team that beat Fiji in the side's opener last weekend, having rotated the team to face Tonga on Tuesday night.

Gilmore said they would have to be on top of every detail to clinch a win.

"They're (New Zealand) very good at their core skills and they work really hard across the ground off the ball," he said.

"Our effort areas have to be really good against them. Having said that, we want to have a crack and bring some game to it tomorrow night as well."

Gilmore said their bench could be a deciding factor in the match, with these games often going to the wire.

"We've got a really strong bench through the forwards and the backs, who are hoping when they come on, they bring some energy and bring some impact with what they do," he said.

Lonergan said they couldn't read too much into New Zealand's opening matches, with the Kiwis seemingly keeping plenty of tricks up their sleeves for the last match.

"They didn't show a whole lot in their first two games, probably saving it for this game and it's going to be the biggest challenge yet, so we're up for it," he said.

"There's been a buzz around this last couple of days because we know this is the big dance on Saturday, so everyone's feeling good and excited."

The Canberran said he was excited to lead out the side in such an important match.

"It's just a real honour for me," he said.

"To be appointed captain of these boys is huge for me and I hope I just do them proud."

Australia and New Zealand have both won their two opening matches in the competition, with Saturday's final match to decide the championship winner.

The teams will face off in the U20s World Championships later this year as well, giving the match-up an extra element of intrigue.

The final day of the Oceania U20s kicks off at 5pm, with Fiji vs Tonga, before the Junior Wallabies vs New Zealand at 7pm AEST, all LIVE on RUGBY.com.au

TEAMS

IN: Sama Malolo, Tom Ross, Angus Blyth, Esei Hangaana, Ryan Lonergan, Fraser McReight, Lawson Creighton, Len Ikitau, Mack Hansen

OUT: Matt Faessler, Charlie Hancock, Hugh Margin, Rory Suttor, Tom Kibble, James Ramm, Phoenix Hunt, Will Harrison, Tom Fuller

Junior Wallabies to face New Zealand

1.Harry Hoopert, Brothers 

2. Efi Ma’afu, Wests

3. Tom Ross, Gungahlin

4. Trevor Hosea, Harlequins 

5. Harry Hockings, University of Queensland 

6. Esei Ha’angana, Melbourne Unicorns 

7. Fraser McReight, Brothers 

8. Josh Kemeny, Sydney University 

9. Ryan Lonergan (c), Vikings 

10. Lawson Creighton, Brothers

11. Matt McTaggert, Easts

12. Isaac Lucas, Sunnybank

13. Len Ikitau, Vikings  

14. Isiah Latu, Queanbeyan

15. Mack Hansen, Gungahlin

Reserves

16. Sama Malolo, Endeavour Hills

17. George Francis, Eastwood 

18. Josh Nasser, University of Queensland 

19. Angus Blyth, Bond University 

20. Justin Sikimeti, Queanbeyan 

21. Tate McDermott, University of Queensland

22. Tony Hunt, Norths (Brisbane) 

23. Hayden Sargeant, Bond University