Australia announce strong U20s squad

The ARU today announced a 26-man squad, including an astonishing 10 players with Super 14 experience, for the inaugural iRB Junior World Championship to be held in Wales in June.

Highlighting an impressive squad are Waratahs regulars Kurtley Beale and Rob Horne, the Reds' Quade Cooper and Will Genia and the Force's Sam Wykes and David Pocock.

Underlying the depth of young talent coming through the Australian Rugby ranks, several players are still in contention for Qantas Wallabies and Australia A selection this season, which may impact on the final composition of the Under 20s squad.

Speedsters Alfi Mafi (NSW) and Blair Connor (QLD) have both been called up to their third national team in a year, with the duo having played in the Under 19s World Championship in Belfast in 2007 and also having competed on the Sevens circuit in the current iRB World Series.

Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty's selection highlights a special week for the 18-year-old who made his Super 14 debut off the bench against the Chiefs in the Force's dramatic last minute win in Perth on Saturday.

Queensland Reds contracted forwards Ben Daley and Rob Simmons have again been selected after appearing in the Under 19s tournament last year.

Western Force prodigy James O'Connor and the Brumbies' Afusipa Taumoepeau would have both been selected in the final squad but both are ineligible for the tournament as they are under 18 years of age.

The ARU unsuccessfully applied for dispensation for three players - O'Connor, Taumoepeau and Matt Toomua - from Rule 4.3 of the iRB Tournament Rules on Eligibility which state:

The player shall be born between 1 January 1988 and 31 December 1989.

No player born outside the stipulated period shall be permitted to play in the tournament.

Australian U20's Coach Brian Melrose, who coached the Western Sydney Rams to the final of the Australian Rugby Championship last year, said the squad comprised of the best young talent in the country.

"It's a highly competitive squad to get into and now we're looking forward to our final preparations for the tournament," said Melrose.

"Of course future selection of the Wallabies and Australia A may have a bearing on the final squad, but we've picked the best team available and we intend to be very competitive in Wales.

"Many of the teams at the World Championships will be full of players with provincial experience and playing in these tournaments presents our young players with a great stepping stone on the way to the Wallabies."

The Under 20s tournament comes after the merging of the Under 19 and Under 21 tournaments by the iRB and is seen as a vital rung on the representative ladder towards full Wallabies selection.

The team has a one-day training session on May 12, before their final preparations begin at the AIS in Canberra on May 20.

A shadow squad of 12 players has also been named to cover any injuries or withdrawals prior to the squad's departure.

Australian Squad for iRB Junior World Championship in Wales - June 6-22

Albert Anae - Prop (QLD)
Kurtley Beale* - Flyhalf (NSW)
Peter Betham - Fullback (NSW)
Nathan Charles - Hooker (NSW)
Blair Connor* - Wing (QLD)
Quade Cooper* - Flyhalf (QLD)
Ben Coridas - Flanker (NSW)
Ben Daley* - Prop (QLD)
Tetera Faulkner - Prop (ACT)
Will Genia* - Halfback (QLD)
James Hanson - Hooker (QLD)
Dane Haylett-Petty* - Fullback (WA)
Robert Horne* - Centre (NSW)
Seilala Lam - No.8 (ACT)
Richard Kingi - Flyhalf (QLD)
Alfi Mafi* - Centre/Wing (NSW)
Ben McCalman - No.8/Flanker (NSW)
Tom Murday - Flanker (WA)
Ratu Nasiganiyavi - Wing (NSW)
Daniel Palmer - Prop (NSW)
David Pocock* - Flanker (WA)
Andrew Rossiter - Flanker (QLD)
Robert Simmons - Lock (QLD)
Jeremy Sua - Halfback (NSW)
Ben Tapuai - Inside Centre (QLD)
Sam Wykes* - Lock (NSW)

*S14 - Players with at least one Super 14 cap

Head Coach - Brian Melrose
Assistant Coach - John Manenti
Assistant Coach - Shannon Fraser
Manager - Luca Liussi
Program Coordinator - Manu Sutherland
Medical Coordinator/Doctor - Angus Bathgate
Physiotherapist Coordinator - Luke Rigney
Physiotherapist - Andrew Cooke
S&C Coordinator - Brynley Abad