Grammar guns earn Australian under-20s call-up
RUGBY UNION: Three of Ipswich Grammar’s best have earned selection to the Junior Wallabies 57-man squad.
Recent graduate Kalani Thomas and 2017 1stXV stars Viliami Lea and Cooper Whiteside were confirmed as members of the 57-man squad for the year’s first camp as the outfit prepares for the Oceania Rugby Under-20s Championship. Coach Jason Gilmore takes charge of the side which assembled at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra on Sunday.
Gilmore said staff and players were excited to get together as a group and kick off their 2020 campaign.
“There are a handful of players who are unavailable for selection due to Super Rugby trials, which gives us the opportunity to have a look at some more players,” he said.
Involvement with the Junior Wallabies is a tremendous opportunity, which represents an important stepping stone on the path to becoming a professional.
Several 2019 Junior Wallabies have since been enlisted by Vodafone Super Rugby franchises to take part in the upcoming pre-season trials occurring around the country ahead of the season’s commencement on January 31. Scrum-half Thomas is among a strong contingent of Australian Schools and under-18 players joining the under-20s program following their undefeated tour of New Zealand.
Josh Flook (Qld), John Connolly (NSW), Lachlan Albert (ACT) and Billy Pollard (ACT) were also part of the team which took on Fijian Schools, New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Schoolboys.
Winger Lea and fly half/fullback Whiteside receive their Junior Wallabies berths on the back of their performances for their respective Brisbane Premier Rugby clubs Souths and Wests.
Mark Nawaqanitawase, Angus Bell and Carlo Tizzano are among a handful of players who were a part of the Junior Wallabies side to make the final at the World Rugby under-20s Championship last year against France that are again eligible for the program.
Schoolboy speedster Angus Bell has also been released from Tim Walsh’s Sevens squad to link up with the XV’s program to further his development.