New Zealand Under 19 coach Kieran Crowley has confirmed the team to face Australia in the final of the IRB Under 19 World Championship in Dubai.
The match will be played on Saturday 22 April at 4am (NZ time) at the Dubai Exiles Rugby Football Club, home to the Dubai leg of the IRB Sevens.
The New Zealand team has three changes to the starting line-up that took the field against England in the semifinal – Canterbury’s John Legg starts at halfback ahead of Daniel Devereaux, Canterbury flanker Mike Coman takes over at No 6 from Otago’s Hoani Matenga and Canterbury prop Shane Cleaver will start in place of Wellington’s Adrian Barone.
Waikato first five Trent Renata is struggling with an ankle injury and his availability will be confirmed closer to kick off. If Renata is ruled out, Canterbury utility back Colin Slade will start in the No 10 jersey and Tane Puki of Southland will take over at fullback. Slade is the tournament’s leading points scorer with 58 points from four tries, 16 conversions and two penalties.
In looking ahead to the final, Crowley said the win over Australia in pool play last week would not influence the way New Zealand approached the final.
“Previous results don’t come into play in a final. We are certainly aware of Australia’s ability, but at the same time we have worked really hard to get to where we are now,” he said.
“Our player depth has played a big role in our road to the final. It certainly won’t be an easy match and it will require us to be on top of our game from kick off,” Crowley added.
TV3 will have live coverage of the final from 4am (NZ time) on Saturday.
New Zealand Under 19 for the final against Australia:
15 Colin Slade (Canterbury) / Tane Puki (Southland), 14 Armyn Sanders (Waikato), 13 Tim Bateman (Canterbury), 12 Male Sa'u (Counties Manukau), 11 Greg Tweddle (Wellington), 10 Trent Renata (Waikato) / Colin Slade (Canterbury), 9 John Legg (Canterbury), 8 Victor Vito (captain, Wellington), 7 Scott Fuglistaller (Wellington), 6 Mike Coman (Canterbury), 5 Chris Middleton (Wellington), 4 Chris Smith (North Harbour), 3 Jonathan Direen, Canterbury), 2 Mason Pomare (Canterbury), 1 Shane Cleaver (Canterbury)
Reserves: 16 Nathan Fotuali'i (Wellington), 17 Ben Afeaki (North Harbour), 18 Adrian Barone (Wellington), 19 James Broadhurst (Canterbury), 20 Piula Faasalele (Auckland), 21 Hoani Matenga (Otago), 22 Dean Brunsdon (Wellington), 23 Daniel Devereaux (North Harbour), 24 Gareth Goodin (Taranaki), 25 Tane Puki (Southland), 26 Tua Saseve (North Harbour)