Three Wellington players named in NZ U20 squad

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New Zealand Under-20 coach Craig Philpott has included three Wellington players in his squad to compete in next month’s Oceania Rugby Championship in Australia.

Petone prop Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, Petone halfback Carlos Price and club mate and midfielder Billy Proctor have been named in the 28-strong squad which followed several training camps over several months.

Fellow Wellington representative prop Xavier Numia was not considered because of injury.

Philpott said it had been a tough process narrowing down the squad after more than 60 players were involved in the training camps.

“We feel we have selected a team that is capable of playing the New Zealand brand of rugby. This is a skillful group of well conditioned athletes who are also good young men.”

Five players who competed in the Oceania Championship last year return to the squad in 2018, including captain Tom Christie (Canterbury).

“This tournament is crucial in our World Championship preparation,” Philpott added.

“It’s the opportunity to take the group away for two weeks, get to know them more closely and for them to understand the responsibilities that come with wearing the black jersey.”

New Zealand will play three matches at the championship against Tonga, Fiji and Australia.

The World Rugby Under 20 Championship kicks off in France in May with defending champions New Zealand scheduled to meet Japan, Wales and Australia in pool play.