12th May, 2016
19 year olds, Harry Nucifora and Josh Taylor have both been selected in the 28-man Australian team for the Under 20s World Championships, to be held in June in Manchester. For halfback Harry, it’s his second World tournament, having been to Italy last year. For Josh it’s his first and makes up for missing out on the Australian Schoolboys after breaking at leg at the National Championships when he was at TSS.
Bond clubmate Alex Mafi is the unlucky one this time, missing his chance at selection because of a recent shoulder operation. Like Josh, he’s a hooker and his unavailability is Josh’s good fortune. But Alex is also just 19 and his turn will come again, at NRC or Super Rugby level.
Harry was surprised to be picked, given that he’s been out of action with an ankle injury for the past 7 weeks. But he’s been working in the gym and has added 3kgs to his weight last year.
“I feel much more confident this year. Last year I was playing against blokes 2 or 3 years older and it was a learning experience. Now I’ve got the NRC exposure with Queensland Country under my belt as well.”
Josh becomes Bond University Rugby Club’s second international after Harry. He played every minute of both matches against New Zealand and felt that the Australian scrum more than held their own. It will be a key factor in Manchester, where the focus will be on the set piece, especially if it’s wet.
It’s fitting that Josh is a hooker as he was actually born in Pontypool, a Welsh club famous for its front-rowers. Wales won the 6 Nations U20s title this year and his relatives have been doing a bit of bragging.
15 Queenslanders have been selected in the squad, which is a reflection of how well the team went in winning the national Super 20s tournament undefeated.
Australia’s win over New Zealand by 25-24 in the second Oceania game last week is a major psychological boost for the young team. Although they lost the series overall, the way they came back to win with a last-minute penalty showed a lot of character.
3 players will return to the 20s from the Queensland Reds – Lukhan Tui, James Tuttle, and Campbell Magnay – so the team, which is coached by Adrian Thompson, has a real chance of making the semi-finals. But it won’t be easy getting past the pool stage, as they have England, Scotland and Italy in their group.
The World Championships in Manchester will be shown “live” on Fox Sports.
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