NZ under 21 to take on Canada

New Zealand under 21 coach Greg Cooper has picked a strong line-up to take on Canada in their international in Rotorua this Thursday.

The Canadians, fresh from their spirited performance against the All Blacks in Hamilton, play New Zealand’s up and coming rugby players at Rotorua International Stadium.

The New Zealand under 21 side features three Super 14 players – Tim Bateman (Crusaders), Lelia Masaga (Chiefs) and George Pisi (Blues) – as well as several players who have represented the country at age grade level.

Former New Zealand under 19 captain George Whitelock, will lead the team on Thursday.

Cooper said the team was excited about the challenge.

“We had an outstanding four-day development camp in Auckland last week, focusing on one-on-one specialist skills coaching and team sessions aimed at improving our basic skills,” Cooper said.

“The match represents a fantastic opportunity for these young individuals to play against international opposition. Canada will want to leave New Zealand on a winning note but we will be as equally determined to do well in front of our home crowd,” he added.

Injury has ruled out four players originally selected in the squad last month.

Auckland scrumhalf Brenton Helleur and Canterbury wing James Paterson both have knee injuries. Helleur has been replaced by John Legg of Canterbury and Paterson by Lance MacDonald of Bay of Plenty.

Former New Zealand under 19 captain Victor Vito of Wellington has also been sidelined with shoulder injury and has been replaced by Taranaki loose forward Chris Walker while Nick Croswell of Manawatu also suffered a shoulder injury and his place is taken by Taranaki lock Leon Power.

New Zealand Under 21: 15 George Pisi, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Daniel Bowden, 11 Lance MacDonald, 10 Colin Slade, 9 David Bason, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 George Whitelock (captain), 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Sekope Kepu
Replacements: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Leon Power, 19 Tom Chamberlain, 20 John Legg, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 Ben Smith

Date: 21 June 2007
Venue: Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
Kick-off: 19.05 (9.05 GMT)
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Paul Honiss (New Zealand), Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)


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