NZ U20s team named for South Africa clash

RISING STAR: Damian McKenzie.
RISING STAR: Damian McKenzie.

The backs have been bolstered, but it's the forward line that needs to stand tall for the New Zealand Under-20s tomorrow night.

Playing South Africa in their second match of the Under-20 Rugby World Championships on the North Shore, the home team will need a vast improvement on their first up win over Samoa.

Coach Chris Boyd described that opening performance as scratchy, and said his team lost control of the match at the start of the second half.

New Zealand can't afford that against South Africa, who boast one of the biggest forward packs in the competition, and a strong set piece.

''We did some things we were happy with, and some things we would have liked to have done better,'' Boyd said of the opening match.

''That's the best Samoan team I've seen in the four years I've been involved, but we would have liked to have done better.

''The strength South Africa bring is around their set piece. The forward pack is big and strong, so we've had to work very hard in that area, and obviously they've got a very strong territorial kicking game as well, so that'll test us as well.''

New Zealand lost control of the match against Samoa after halftime, relying on strong defence on their own try line to keep Samoa out.

It wasn't until about 20 minutes into the second half that New Zealand regained control, coinciding with the arrival of Blues Super Rugby players Simon Hickey and Tevita Li off the bench.

Boyd said the strength in the New Zealand squad is in the backline, and both captain Hickey and Li will start against South Africa. 

Canterbury first five-eighth Richard Mo'unga moves to the bench, as does Auckland winger Tinoai Faiane. 

Flanker Tom Sanders also comes into the starting team, in place of Kyle Harris, while back Tauasosi Tuimavave comes onto the bench after missing the first game all together.

Boyd wouldn't say New Zealand's forward pack is weak but said the squad's strength lies elsewhere.

''I'd say it's more that our strength is in our backs. If you look at the players in respect of what they've all ready achieved, our best players are all in the backs.''Our week is one day, so you play Samoa, recover the next day, train on Wednesday and play [tomorrow]. It's a very short turnaround.

''We've just tidied up what we needed to, and hopefully those are the things that will test us when we go into the game against South Africa.''

Boyd said that while South Africa will utilise their forwards and set piece, New Zealand need to use their backs to attack the visitors.

Fullback Damian McKenzie and wing Vince Tavae-Aso had strong games against Samoa and Boyd is hoping they will continue that form against South Africa.

''It will all come down to who controls the football really, so that's going to be the decider.''

New Zealand take South Africa at 7.35pm tomorrow at North Harbour Stadium.

New Zealand Under-20s: Damian McKenzie, Vincent Tavae-Aso, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Tevita Li, Simon Hickey, Mitchell Drummond; Mathew Peni, Lachlan Boshier, Tom Sanders, Geoffery Cridge, James Tucker, Tau Koloamatangi, Epalahame Faiva, Atunaisa Moli. Reserves: James O'Reilly, Scott Mellow, Timothy Cadwallader, Kyle Harris, Joshua Dickson, Joshua Renton, Richard Mo'unga, Tauasosi Tuimavave.