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National U19 Tournament Preview (including 10 players to watch)

Representative Rugby | 05 September 2017 | Adam Julian & Club Rugby

National U19 Tournament Preview (including 10 players to watch)

Above: The two trophies to be won, the Michael Jones Trophy (left) for the bottom 8 Championship section and the Graham Mourie Cup for the top 8 Premiership division. Photo by Dave Lintott Photography 

The fourth annual Jock Hobbs National Memorial U19 tournament kicks off at Owen Delany Park in Taupo on September 10 with semi-final day on September 13 and the finals on September 16th.

The previous two winners of the of the Premiership Graham Mourie Cup section (Top 8), Canterbury and Waikato, are seeded second after losses in the regional seeding tournament.

Ten players to watch

Kaliopasi Uluilakepa (Wellington) - The recent arrival from Tonga has made a big impression in 2017. The giant prop in the Alex Fidow mould can cover all three front row positions. He was selected for the Hurricanes Under-18’s and scored a try in the 25-10 win over the Crusaders equivalent in July after playing some Premier games and standing out for the Petone Colts who won the Wellington competition with a 14-2 record. Uluilakepa scored two tries in the final triumph against Old Boys’ University.

Tom Florence (Taranaki) - The Paul Tito lookalike covers both loose forward and lock. The former New Plymouth Boys’ High School student is fiery, mobile and an adept jumper in the lineouts. In 2015, New Plymouth was among the top eight First XV’s in New Zealand and Florence was at the forefront of that charge. Florence has been aligned with the Hautapu and New Plymouth Old Boys’ clubs.

Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato) - ‘Laggy’ was a recent debutant for the Waikato NPC team at lock. A product of St. Peter’s Cambridge,. McWhannell helped St. Peter’s reach the National co-ed top four finals last year and flourished playing his way into the New Zealand Schools team.

Jamie Spowart (Tasman) - Tasman were the surprise package of the southern grading tourney winning all three games for the first time and putting 62 points on Otago. Spowart, a 2016 New Zealand Barbarians selection out of King’s College, has been a major contributor to that ascent. The speedy winger/fullback scored four tries in the Otago game and the late winner against Canterbury. Spowart is a player in space that can create real panic in the opposition defence.

Slade McDowell (Otago) - The Otago captain is a tenacious and technically sound openside who was on the cusp of cracking the New Zealand Under-20’s this year. He was outstanding in the Otago Boys’ High School First XV in 2015 where he scored two tries in the National Top Four semi-final against Scots College, a game Otago nearly won. McDowell has since helped Kaikorai win the Otago senior title in 2016 and return to the semi-finals in 2017. Intrerestingly, Jack McHugh, a highly rated openside from Sacred Heart College in Auckland, has moved to second-five and partners fellow Sacred Heart old boy and 2016 head prefect George Witana in the halves.

Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty) – Enjoyed a stellar sporting achievement at Rotorua Boys’ High School winning four National titles – two in touch, the 2014 Condor Sevens and the 2015 National Top Four rugby crown. Trask was selected for the New Zealand Barbarians in 2016 and scored 20 points in the 46-20 win against Fiji. He scored 249 points for the Rotorua First XV in 2015 and in addition to his kicking is noted for his quick footwork and calm and exciting management of the game.

Brayden Iose (Manawatu) - The tall and athletic loose forward has emerged as a natural leader in age group footy guiding the New Zealand Schools’ to victories over Fiji and Australia last year and then leading Kia Toa to the Manawatu senior club final in 2017. Iose played 50 games and scored 23 tries for the Palmerston North Boys’ High School First XV making him the first player since All Black Ngani Laumape to reach a half century of matches for Palmerston North.

Nathan Vaatausili (North Harbour) - An imposing No.8 out of Massey, Vaatausili has made the transition from First XV rugby to senior rugby seamlessly. He is noted for his power and work ethic with the ball in hand. Last year he was captain of the Massey High School First Xv who made the 1A North Harbour final. He was also a Blues Under-18 selection.

Harry Symes (Heartland) - The speedster out of Wanganui covers fullback and wing and has scored three tries in the three seeding games. Last year Symes was a member of the Wanganui Collegiate First XV where he scored an outstanding individual try against Te Aute College. Additionally he won two medals at the National Secondary Schools athletics championships, capturing gold in the 4x100m relay and silver in the 200m.

Harry Plummer (Auckland) - The first-five scored a record 22 points for the New Zealand Schools against Auckland in October. Recovered from a serious shoulder injury, Plummer out of St. Peter’s College has a prodigious punt, a good grasp of strategy and has played regular senior rugby for Grammar TEC. His father Mark Plummer was a former physiotherapist for the Blues and New Zealand cricket team.

The road to this year’s tournament and past results

Day 1: Premiership - Graham Mourie Cup Fixtures

10:45am: Waikato v Tasman
12:30pm: North Harbour v Wellington
2:15pm: Bay of Plenty v Canterbury
4:00pm: Auckland v Manawatu

Day One - Michael Jones Trophy Fixtures

10:45am: Northland v Hawke’s Bay
12:30pm: Counties Manukau v Otago
2:15pm: Auckland Development v Heartland
4:00pm: Taranaki v Southland

Premiership Graham Mourie Cup Seedings

Blues Qualifiers
1. Auckland
2. North Harbour

Chiefs Qualifiers
1. Bay of Plenty
2. Waikato

Hurricanes Qualifiers
1. Wellington
2. Manawatu

Southern Qualifiers
1. Tasman
2. Canterbury

Championship Michael Jones Trophy Seedings

Blues Qualifiers
3. Auckland Development
4. Northland

Chiefs Qualifiers
3. Taranaki
4. Counties Manukau

Hurricanes Qualifiers
3. Hawke’s Bay
4. Heartland

Southern Qualifiers
3. Otago
4. Southland

Blues Region Seeding Results

August 19: Northland: 0 v Auckland 55
August 19: Auckland Development: 19 v North Harbour: 32
August 26: Auckland Development: 5 v Auckland: 35
August 26: North Harbour: 36 v Northland: 7
September 2: Auckland Development: 43 v Northland: 14
September 3: North Harbour: 12 v Auckland: 57

Chiefs Region Seeding Results

August 19: Waikato: 32 v Taranaki: 3
August 19: Bay of Plenty: 37 v Counties Manukau: 3
August 26: Waikato: 42 v Counties Manukau: 21
August 26: Taranaki: 21 v Bay of Plenty: 21
September 2: Counties Manukau: 24 v Taranaki: 48
September 3: Bay of Plenty: 34 v Waikato: 29

Note: Bay of Plenty and Waikato finished on the same number of points, but by virtue of beating Waikato, Bay of Plenty are the top seeds in the Chiefs section.

Hurricanes Region Seeding Results

August 19: Heartland: 12 v Wellington: 26
August 19: Hawke’s Bay: 5 v Wellington: 26
August 26: Wellington: 31 v Hawke’s Bay: 6
August 26: Manawatu: 27 v Heartland: 18
September 2: Wellington: 15 v Manawatu: 7
September 3: Hawke’s Bay: 8 v Heartland: 10

Southern Region Seeding Results

August 19: Southland: 0 v Canterbury: 68
August 19: Otago: 19 v Canterbury: 62
August 26: Otago: 45 v Southland: 21
August 26: Canterbury: 24 v Tasman: 27
September 2: Canterbury: 27 v Otago: 21
September 3: Tasman: 22 v Southland: 17

Past Graham Mourie Cup Premiership Finals

2016 - Waikato: 25 (Luke Jacobson try; Matthew Lansdown 6 pen, 1 con) Auckland: 22 (Jerry Samania, Loketi Manu, Charles Napa’a tries; Wiseguy Faiane 1 con 1 pen, Oliver Polson 1 con)

2015 - Canterbury: 41 (Charlie Gamble 2, Matthew Morrison, Joel Hintz, Fraser Scott tries; Brett Cameron, Cameron 5 con 2 pen) Waikato: 35 (Shelford Murray, Amanaki Savieti, Aaron Preest, Sekope Moli-Lopeti, Christian Kelleher tries; Matthew Lansdown 5 con)

2014 - Wellington: 32 (Luke Campbell, Pakai Turia, Faraimo Nofoaiga, Chase Tiatia tries; Pakai Turia pen,con; Josh Robertson-Weepu pen, 2 con) Canterbury: 21 (George Bridge, Elia Elia tries; Finn-Hart Strawbridge 2 pen; Miles Thoroughgood pen, con).HT: 10-6

Michael Jones Trophy Championship Finals

2016: Counties: 35 v Waikato: 20
2015: Counties: 32 v Tasman: 28
2014: Southland: 26 v Manawatu: 21

Past John Graham Medal Winners As Tournament MVP

2016: Luke Jacobson (Waikato)
2015: Charlie Gamble (Canterbury)
2014: Mitchell Karpik (Auckland)

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