Australia Under 20 coaches Anthony Eddy and David Nucifora have named their 28-man squad for the IRB Junior World Championship being held in South Africa in June. Super Rugby representative and Reds forward Liam Gill has been selected as captain and the squad comprises three players who played in last year's edition, as well as several players from Super Rugby and with Australia Sevens experience.
Over the past few months Eddy and Nucifora have held two selection camps and watched players closely in their respective club environments before settling on their 28-man squad.
“The squad we’ve been able to select is a good mix and we are fortunate to be taking some players to South Africa that have experienced the elite environments of international and professional rugby,” said Nucifora.
“Having this kind of experience in the group will go a long way in helping the entire squad prepare for the intensity of the Junior World Championship.”
Captain Gill is one of five players in the squad from Super Rugby, alongside Chris Sautia, Nick Frisby, Ulupano Seuteni and Kyle Godwin.
The Reds flank made his debut at the tournament in 2010 as a fresh-faced 17-year-old while in 2011 again earned selection before being withdrawn from the side after being re-called into an injury-hit Reds squad.
Upon his return Gill played an integral role to the Reds finals campaign which ended with selection in Queensland’s matchday Super Rugby championship-winning squad.
Gill said it was an honour to be chosen as the Australian Under 20s captain.
“I’m thrilled to be given another opportunity at the Junior World Championships - it’s a great tournament to play in,” Gill said.
“There is also a lot of talent in the 2012 squad and a strong Queensland influence. I’m sure all the guys can’t wait to get to South Africa to test themselves against the best on offer from the other nations.”
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said Gill was a strong choice to captain the squad.
“Despite his age Liam possesses a number of strong leadership traits at the Reds and is a great choice to lead Australia at the tournament,” McKenzie said.
“All four of the Reds guys - Liam, Nick, Chris and UJ – are part of our system for a reason and the experience in South Africa will be another great development opportunity during the early stages of their careers.”
With the tournament being held in June, all four Reds members will be available for Australian Under 20s duty as the period coincides with a break in the Super Rugby competition, which stops during the month-long Wallabies Test window in June.
The 2012 tournament will see Australia enter as the first seed in Pool C, which includes France, Argentina and Scotland.
Australia are in Pool C, alongside Scotland, Argentina and France. In 2011 Australia finished third after beating 30-17 France in the third place play-off, reversing a defeat to the same side in the pool stages.
In its history, the Australian Under 20 side has seen the likes of David Pocock, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Rob Simmons and James Slipper go on to represent the senior side.
Australia Under 20 squad:
Allan Alaalatoa, Curtis Browning, Lindsay Crook, Steven Cummins, Thomas Cusack, James Dargaville, Allan Faalavaau, Con Foley, Nicholas Frisby (SR), Liam Gill (captain) (SR), Kyle Godwin (SR), Malietoa Hingano, Lewis Holland, Jed Holloway, Oliver Hoskins, Sam Jeffries, Silatolu Latu, Apolosi Latunipulu, Matthew Lucas, Leslie Makin, Sean McMahon, Benn Melrose, Maile Ngauamo, Pettowa Paraka, Sam Reiser, Hugh Roach, Christopher Sautia (SR), Ulupano Seuteni (SR).