Donnelly appointed

Tom Donnelly
Tom Donnelly
Otago coach Tom Donnelly will have a busy lead-in to this year’s NPC.

The former Highlander and All Black has been named as this year’s New Zealand under-20 coach.

The announcement comes ahead of the second edition of the Super Rugby under-20 tournament in Taupo, beginning on Sunday.

Donnelly will be a keen observer of the three match days, which will feature the country’s best young players.,

From that he will pick a squad of 27 players to face Australia, Fiji and Argentina in July.

"For many of these players they are on the cusp of a professional career, whether that’s playing DHL Super Rugby Pacific or, for some, taking another step toward their ultimate goal of representing the All Blacks," Donnelly said.

"It’s a special time for these players and for us as coaches.

"There is an incredible pool of talent out there in Aotearoa and I look forward to seeing them put their best foot forward in Taupo."

The Highlanders will send a team to the tournament, as will the other four New Zealand Super Rugby franchises, alongside a Barbarians team.

New Zealand Rugby high performance player development manager Matt Sexton said the tournament was a vital part of NZR’s player pathway.

"This week will expose players, coaches and managers to a high-performance environment and has been designed to accelerate their development on and off the field.

"We have seen that with 16 players from last year’s tournament taking the field during the 2022 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.

"It is also a key week for Tom and his selectors to identify players for their New Zealand Under-20s squad and we are delighted to have the Barbarians involved again during what we expect will be an intense, entertaining and competitive week of rugby."

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