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Faingaanuku & Jordan headed to world under-20 rugby championships

Tima Faingaanuku, shown here in Tasman Makos' colours, is heading to the world under-20 champs in Georgia.
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Tima Faingaanuku, shown here in Tasman Makos' colours, is heading to the world under-20 champs in Georgia.

Tasman's Tima Faingaanuku and Will Jordan have both secured their plane tickets for this year's world rugby under-20 tournament.

Both made the final 28-player cut for the world championship to be held in Georgia from May 25 to June 18 after New Zealand finished unbeaten at the Oceania Under-20 tournament which ended on Australia's Gold Coast on Saturday.

Despite straining his left ankle in New Zealand's opening 63-3 win over Fiji, Faingaanuku clearly did enough to retain his place in the squad after also being selected for the final against Australia.

Will Jordan was a star performer for the Christchurch BHS First XV.
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Will Jordan was a star performer for the Christchurch BHS First XV.

He said that all the hard work had finally paid off.

"I was working really hard after the Mitre 10 Cup season because I knew that was one of my goals," he said. "So as soon as I made the Oceania [squad], I knew that I sort of just had to do my thing on and off the field just to secure the spot, which I managed to do."

Faingaanuku was selected for last year's Tasman Makos national provincial championship rugby squad in just his first year out of college, having been a star performer at fullback with the Nelson College first XV.

In 2015 he represented the Crusaders Knights and Tasman under-18 teams and was selected in last year's Tasman men's sevens squad for the national tournament in Rotorua.

Former Christchurch Boys' High School first XV star Jordan signed a two-year contract with Tasman earlier this year and the strong-running fullback was in impressive try-scoring form in Australia, including a hat-trick in the win over Fiji and another two in the 43-6 final win over Australia. New Zealand also beat Samoa 80-23.

"Will was in awesome form in the last game, he was on fire,"​ Faingaanuku said.

Jordan was a standout performer for the Christchurch BHS first XV in 2015, scoring 19 tries in 11 games to finish the UC Championship as the competition's leading try-scorer. He's also a member of the Crusaders Knights development team. Tasman lock Quinten Strange was a member of last year's New Zealand World Cup squad.

New Zealand have won the annual tournament on five occasions, with their last victory in 2015. 

New Zealand Under-20 head coach Craig Philpott said it was a difficult task to whittle the squad down to the 28 players that will go to Georgia. 

"All 32 players we took on the successful Oceania tournament campaign last week put their hands up for world championship selection, and all merited the opportunity to wear the black jersey in Georgia," Philpott said. "We had to make some tough calls and no doubt there will be some disappointed players. 

"The squad has a good base of experience with seven players returning from last year's Under-20 world championship in Manchester. However, we also want to learn the lessons from the last world championship and in particular ensure that we are competitive in the forwards against the big northern hemisphere teams. 

"There is a lot to be happy with from our win in the Oceania tournament. We focused on a handful of important aspects of our game, especially defence, and were proud of the fact we conceded only two tries in the tournament. With more time together we will hone in on our scrummaging which will no doubt be a decisive area of the games in Georgia. 

"We also want to play our natural high tempo game and provide our backs plenty of space and opportunity to run. We scored a lot of tries on the Gold Coast, and our focus now is on ensuring we play with both speed and accuracy."

The squad assembles in Mount Maunganui later this week and travels to Georgia on May 24. Their pool matches are against Scotland on May 31, Italy on June 4 and Ireland on June 8.     

At a glance

NEW ZEALAND UNDER-20 - forwards: Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Sam Caird (Waikato), Adrian Choat (Auckland), Tom Christie (Canterbury), Ryan Coxon (Waikato), Tim Farrell (Hawke's Bay), Alex Fidow (Wellington), Luke Jacobson (captain, Waikato), Ezekiel Lindenmuth (Auckland), Marino Mikaele-Tuu (Hawke's Bay), Dalton Papalii (Auckland), Jacob Pierce (Auckland), JP Sauni (Auckland), Samuel Slade (Auckland), Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hawke's Bay), Isaia Walker-Leawere (Wellington); backs: Caleb Clarke (Auckland), Ereatara Enari (Canterbury), Braydon Ennor (Canterbury), Tima Faingaanuku (Tasman), Tiaan Falcon (Hawke's Bay), Will Jordan (Tasman), Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Wellington), Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau), Josh McKay (Canterbury), Jona Nareki (Otago), Tamati Tua (Northland), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Wellington).