Australia Under 20 head coach David Nucifora has unveiled a squad brimming with experience for the IRB Junior World Championship 2011, including nine players who played in last year’s final loss to New Zealand in Argentina.
The first ever final appearance for Australia in an IRB Age Grade tournament since they won the IRB Under 19 World Championship title in 2006 ended in a heavy 62-17 loss to an inspired Baby Blacks outfit who claimed a third successive JWC crown.
Prop Paul Alo-Emile, hooker Siliva Siliva, second rows Greg Peterson and Luke Jones, flankers Liam Gill, Colby Faingaa and Ed Quirk, centre Kimami Sitauti and wing Dominic Shipperley all played in the final defeat, while Scott Sio was another in the 2010 squad who returns for a second shot at the title.
Michael Hooper, one of seven players with Super Rugby experience in the 26-man squad, was selected to play for Australia Under 20s a year ago, but injured his ankle in a warm-up match with Argentina and was ruled out of the tournament.
“Last year when the new Super Rugby format was set, and being a Rugby World Cup year, we realised there was going to be a clash with the Super Rugby and the Junior World Championship,” explained Nucifora.
Breeding ground for Wallabies
“With the knowledge of the number of contracted players who were still going to be eligible for this team a solution was sought back then and an agreement reached to create a threshold number of games to determine eligibility.”
The Australian Under 20 programme has seen nearly 30 players go on to earn Super Rugby contracts in the last three years, not to mention helped the likes of David Pocock, Quade Cooper, Will Genia and Kurtley Beale hone the skills that now see them established in the Wallabies squad.
In total nine players have made their Test debuts for the Wallabies after graduating from the Junior World Championship over the last three years with a further four having played in midweek matches in Europe, including another member of that losing 2010 final side Matt Toomua.
Nucifora will unveil his captain when the squad assembles at the Sydney Academy of Sport in Narrabeen on 27 May, two days before they fly to Italy to set up camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Varese.
Australia, seeded second for the 10-26 June tournament in Italy, will begin their campaign against Tonga in Rovigo, before tackling Fiji in Padova four days later and then France in the expected Pool B decider in Treviso on 18 June with only the pool winner guaranteed a place in the semi finals.
Australia Under 20 squad:
Forwards: *Paul Alo-Emile (WA), Jarrad Butler (QLD), Blake Enever (QLD), *Colby Faingaa (ACT), *Liam Gill (QLD), Michael Hooper (ACT), *Luke Jones (VIC), Tim Metcher (ACT), *Greg Peterson (NSW), JP Pradaud (ACT), * Eddie Quirk (QLD), Hugh Roach (ACT), *Siliva Siliva (QLD), *Scott Sio (NSW).
Backs: James Ambrosini (ACT), Eddie Bredenhann (ACT), Joel Faulkner (QLD), Tom Kingston (NSW), Tevita Kuridrani (QLD), Apo Latunipulu (NSW), Matt Lucas (QLD), Simon Morahan (QLD), Rohan Saifoloi (NSW), *Dom Shipperley (QLD), *Kimami Sitauti (QLD), Ben Volavola (NSW).
* Played for Australia at JWC 2010
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