Ten Changes For New Zealand Under-20s

The New Zealand team to face Argentina tomorrow in their second match of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship 2015 in Calvisano, Italy, has been named.  Head Coach Scott Robertson and assistant coaches Leon MacDonald and Tana Umaga, have made 10 changes and one positional change to the starting 15.  MacDonald felt the team’s first outing of the tournament began untidily and is looking for the players to adopt a much calmer start for Saturday night’s game.

He says:  ‘For a lot of the guys this was the first time they’d done the haka and they were quite gee’d up for the start of the game, so we’ve talked about just staying calm at the beginning.  We made a lot of common errors and gave away a lot of penalties, just because we were probably too keen.  The first 20 minutes didn’t really go our way, but the positive is we bounced back, we re-gathered and then played good rugby.’  MacDonald believes the team’s solid recovery plan is key to overcoming the short turnaround between games during the championship.  He says:  ‘Other than the loss of Geoff Cridge to injury and the usual bumps and bruises, we’ve had a full complement at training.  The boys are doing really well in terms of being young professionals and looking after their bodies.  They’re having ice baths after training and going to the pool which is helping us to get our bodies right for the short turnaround.’
The team came away from Tuesday night’s game with a comfortable 68-10 win, but it is the set piece that will be a focus when they take on Argentina.  MacDonald says:  ‘We scored some good tries during the Scotland game, seven of them were scored from broken play, but our set piece wasn’t as good as we would have liked.  We intend to work on this.  If we can get ball in broken play, with a bit of space, then that’s our strength.  We do practice this a lot and we’ve got guys who do enjoy running with the ball, so that’s an area that we try and target.  We’ve also worked really hard on defence and our last game was a big step up from where we’ve been in previous games.’
The former All Black expects the South Americans to uphold their tradition of strong forward play and sees Saturday’s game as a good test for the New Zealand youngsters.  He says:  ‘I think we’ll get our fair share of ball from Argentina, we need to get good quality possession at line-out and scrum time, and I think we can do that.  We’ll challenge them for the ball, as we know they are a very strong scrummaging team.  The top teams, if we can get through to the playoffs, are just as strong, so it is a good test for us against a very powerful pack.  Our forwards are up for the challenge and I’m looking forward to that.’  First five-eighth Otere Black sits on the bench fresh off his flight after being released by the Hurricanes.
Atu Moli hands over the captain’s armband to centre Jack Goodhue, and also takes a back seat on the bench.  Aidan Ross, Mitchell Dunshea, Mitchell Jacobsen and Vincent Tavae-Aso make their first appearances in the tournament.  MacDonald says:  ‘We’ve made a few changes for the second game, but these guys have been together now for a while, so we’re starting to get some good combinations and we’re starting to get a feel.  This will give nearly everybody a start, so everybody gets an opportunity to push for a starting spot leading into the playoff games.  You can see at training things are starting to click a lot more every time we get out on the paddock, so I feel we are starting to gel much better as a group.’
The match against Argentina, being played at Stadio San Michele, Calvisano, kicks off on Saturday 6 June at 18:30 local time.  The team is as follows:

1  Aidan Ross                  
2  Steven Misa                
3  Isileli Tu’ungafasi        
4  James Blackwell         
5  Mitchell Dunshea        
6  Mitchell Jacobson       
7  Mitchell Karpik           
8  Henry Stowers            
9  Harrison Levien          
10  Mitchell Hunt              
11  Vincent Tavae-Aso      
12  Tinoai (TJ) Faiane       
13  Jack Goodhue            
14  Sean Wainui                
15  Luteru Laulala             

Reserves:

16  Liam Polwart                
17  Tau Koloamatangi         
18  Atunaisa Moli                
19  Joshua Goodhue            
20  Akira Ioane                    
21  Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi  
22  Otere Black                   
23  Tevita Li
Photo credit: Massimiliano Pratelli/Fotosportit