Luke Jacobson follows in footsteps of All Blacks as New Zealand under-20s captain
Luke Jacobson is following the footsteps of Ardie Savea and Luke Whitelock as captain of New Zealand's under-20s.
Savea and Whitelock have become All Blacks - Whitelock once in 2013 and Savea with 12 caps since last year - after leading the Baby Blacks - an honour given to Jacobson for next week's Oceania tournament in Australia.
The 20-year-old has joined the Chiefs development squad, who are captained by older brother Mitch, after leading Waikato's under-19s to victory in the Jock Hobbs Memorial tournament in Taupo last September.
Jacobson, a blindside flanker or No 8, also claimed the player of the tournament award and was part of NZ's under-20s who, as defending champions, finished fifth at the world rugby championships in England.
But now Jacobson can stamp his own mark as leader in his second year with the Baby Blacks, who face Fiji, Samoa and Australia on the Gold Coast before attempting to wrestle back the world title from England in next month's tournament in Georgia.
Jacobson said captaining the side was a huge honour and admitted the names he's following as skipper brought home the reality he's aspiring for in his career.
"It's pretty intimidating to see what they've gone on to do," he joked. "But It would be awesome if I could follow in those sort of footsteps."
The Brisbane Tens was Jacobson's first chance to shine in Chiefs colours and no doubt impressed coaches with his efforts at Suncorp Stadium; most notably for a brilliant individual try as the Chiefs won the tournament.
"That was outstanding getting to play at Suncorp and it was awesome to win it," said Jacobson, who was thrilled with playing next to Chiefs legend Liam Messam, the franchise's most capper player.
"He's pretty down to earth, pretty composed and gets the job done. He gets all the boys on the same level as him."
Since leaving Cambridge High School, Luke has played alongside 21-year-old brother Mitch, a flanker, at Hautapu, NZ under-20s and the Chiefs development squad this year, while elder 23-year-old brother Kane, also a flanker, played for North Harbour in last year's Mitre 10 Cup after leaving Waikato.
"We [he and Mitch] played together last year at the juniors world cup and that was real good," Jacobson said.
"Hopefully we get on the field [together] in the Mitre 10 Cup and it would be awesome if Kane was able to move back down, so we could all play together."
Waikato head coach Sean Botherway said there was a strong possibility the Jacobson brothers would link up in Waikato's back row this year.
Botherway called Luke up to the seniors squad a day after winning the juniors title.
"That was an opportunity to get a feel for the environment and there's no question that Luke is going to be a professional from next season," Botherway said.
"His potential and talent have been recognised for many years since he was a young man at Cambridge High.
"One of his real strengths is that when he does step up in class, he performs. He went to the world [juniors] tournament last year, a year young, and he was at the Tens in Brisbane and performed very well."
The Baby Blacks leave New Zealand on Saturday for matches against Fiji on April 28, Samoa on May 2 and Australia on May 6.
AT A GLANCE
New Zealand under-20s captains
2016: Leni Apisai (Finished 5th)
2015: Atu Moli (Champions)
2014: Simon Hickey (3rd)
2013: Ardie Savea (4th)
2012: Ardie Savea (2nd)
2011: Luke Whitelock (Champions)
Squad for the Oceania tournament: Harrison Allan, Asafo Aumua, Sam Caird, Adrian Choat, Tom Christie, Ryan Coxon, Tim Farrell, Alex Fidow, Luke Jacobson (c), Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Marino Mikaele-Tuu, Dalton Papalii, Jacob Pierce, John Sauni, Samuel Slade, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Caleb Clarke, Ereatara Enari (vc), Braydon Ennor, Tima Faingaanuku, Tiaan Falcon, Will Jordan, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Orbyn Leger, Ciarahn Matoe, Josh McKay, Jona Nareki, Carlos Price, Tamati Tua, Thomas Umaga-Jensen.