Having been drawn in Pool B with Georgia and South Africa, two sides that are known for their physical attributes, New Zealand coach Craig Philpott has selected a squad that he hopes will be able to meet the challenge head-on.
The squad, led by Hawke's Bay front-row Kianu Kereru-Symes, features seven players who were involved in last year’s programme, 11 with Mitre 10 Cup experience and 15 who have graduated from the U19 pathway.
“We have a group here that has the potential to be really special. The focus is on us playing our style of game, but we also have to be ready to adapt to the opposition as well," said Philpott, when assessing New Zealand's pool which also features Scotland and Georgia.
“We are going to be playing teams who are forward oriented, that scrum for penalties; so we need to change the way we think about the game but still maintain that flair that is New Zealand rugby’s point of difference on the world stage.”
Super Rugby players Leicester Faingaanuku, Etene Nanai Seturo and Billy Proctor were all made available for the trip to Argentina, to the delight of Philpott.
“Those players will bring a high level of professionalism and game sense from their experience on the Super Rugby stage. They are used to pressure and have an understanding of what it means to perform at the highest level," he said.
New Zealand will head to South America having relinquished their Oceania U20 crown for the first time, following a 24-0 defeat to Australia on the Gold Coast last week. However, Philpott says they learnt some valuable lessons in defeat.
“The Oceania tournament provides a great opportunity to get together and build our team culture off the field and get familiar with our patterns on-field. We have got some great learnings out of that result, in particular how we deal with defensive pressure, because there will be plenty of that at the World Champs.”