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St.George Queensland Reds Elite Development Head Coach, Paul Carozza, has named a strong 28-man squad to take to the National Under-20s Championships in Canberra.
The National Championships will kick off this Saturday, 22 March, and Queensland will compete against NSW, Combined States (selected from the Southern States Carnival) and Tonga (invited team).
Carozza has overseen the development of the next generation of Queensland talent for a number of years, working in both the former Queensland and Australian Rugby academy systems. He has coached many of the current Reds players including Jake Schatz, Ed Quirk, James Slipper and Aidan Toua.
With a new generation of talent coming through the ranks, Carozza is looking forward to the seeing the team in action in Canberra.
“We’ve been working hard since November with a wider training squad from which we’ve selected our final 28,” said Carozza.
“There are a lot of talented young footballers in the group including a number of players who have already represented Australia at schoolboy and national under-20 level.
“A select group of players have also spent time with the Reds throughout the off-season and that experience will benefit them heading into the Championships,” he added.
The forward pack includes 2013 Queensland Premier Rugby Tony Shaw medallist, Michael Gunn, who has been playing with Reds A in the Pacific Rugby Cup at flanker.
Notable former Australian schoolboy representatives Lolo Fakaosilea and Adam Korzyck have also earned time for Reds A during the Pacific Rugby Cup, and will add size and power to the team.
The Queensland squad possesses great depth in the halves with Adam Deck and James Tuttle both having represented their state and country at a schoolboy level while Scott Gale, currently in the Reds wider training squad, will captain the side.
2013 Queensland Colt of the Year Sam Greene has also been selected, following a stellar first year out of school where he was the leading point scorer in Premier Rugby and was one of the front runners for the Alec Evans Medal.
Outside back Jonah Placid, still just 18, is one of the more experienced players in squad having already represented Australia at an under-20 level in 2013. So far in 2014, Placid has played for the Reds in their pre-season match against the Chiefs in Toowoomba, and for Reds A in the Pacific Rugby Cup.
As well as the 28 players selected in the Queensland side, Adam Gauder and Jack Finigan from the Gold Coast, who represented Queensland Country Under-20s at the Southern States Carnival in February, were both selected in the Combined States team.
Reds Head Coach Richard Graham said the Reds Under-20s program was an important addition to Queensland Rugby’s pathway.
“The Reds Under-20s program has provided Queensland Rugby with a pathway that allows us to engage with the next generation of Queensland talent, and nurture their development once they complete their schooling,” said Graham.
“Paul Carozza and his coaching staff are able to expose the players to a high level of coaching while also providing them with strength and conditioning programs and access to physio and medical support.
“The model reflects the Reds program and the younger players operate within a semi-professional environment that assists with their transition through to the national under-20s program and Super Rugby.
“There are plenty of talented players within this current squad and I’m looking forward to following their progress throughout the National Championships.”
The Reds Under-20s played their final trial match before the National Championships last Friday night against Junior Japan, as part of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup schedule.
The Queenslanders secured a 40-26 win, scoring six tries to Japan’s four, with outside centre Nigel Tanuvasa and captain Scott Gale both scoring two tries each, while Sam Greene slotted five from six conversions.
Reds Under-20s Squad for National Championships
University of Queensland
Scott Gale (Captain)
14 NOVEMBER 2018