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New Zealand Under-20 ready for glory » allblacks.com

The New Zealand Under-20 side will be hoping to take advantage of better conditions to play a more complete match in Sunday’s Rugby Championship Under-20s final against Australia on the Sunshine Coast.

Wet weather limited their draw against South Africa and their victory over Argentina, but they will be hoping for good weather for the final.

But coach Jono Gibbes said the weather was changeable and they had prepared for both types of conditions during the final.

Gibbes said while the tournament was preparation for all sides ahead of heading to the World Rugby’s Under-20 Championship in South Africa in July, it was also about getting to know the coaches and players.

The selection for the final was limited to 23, but those who were not selected had trained well and done their work to prepare the squad. Although it was difficult, it was part of the professional game, especially as players progressed through different levels.

They expect another big squad against Australia, but with a different style of play than South Africa and Argentina.

“What we have noticed about Australia is that they have a higher ruck speed than the others, and they have the skills in their back line, especially on the outside. They use a fast ball to get it wide as quickly as possible.

“The breakdown will be a crucial fight and I’m an attacker, so we always say the set piece too.”

Gibbes said the final was about everyone doing their job, focusing on what they had to do at each moment and doing the little things as best they could.

“If we have that kind of collective focus and execute in that way, hopefully we could put ourselves in a position to take the title.”

Although the group had yet to be exposed to professional thinking in Super Rugby squads, Gibbes said it was about embracing their youth.

“The excitement, the enthusiasm is what’s cool about this age group and this stage of their career. You know they’re motivated for a game like this. We have to use it; it’s a real force.”

“In the few weeks we were together it was easy to work with the group. There are a lot of motivated individuals and good energy.”

Gibbes said it had benefited the coaches and players to have All Blacks coaching panellists Jason Ryan and Leon MacDonald on hand.

“We benefited from their presence and exchanged ideas, which raised some good, interesting points and highlighted different ways you can package things to convey information.

“They will be looking at how we can evolve the Under-20 journey and investing the time of two All Blacks coaches to be here for a number of days is a strong signal that this team remains important.”

Fullback Isaac Hutchinson said it was every player’s dream to play in a final, especially in a black jersey.

That makes it more exciting. All the boys will be raring to get in.”

Wet conditions on the Sunshine Coast meant it would have been more of a tournament for the forwards to take the lead, but they were hoping for better conditions for everyone on Sunday.

“But we just have to play our game anyway. We have a pretty exciting back line and there is a lot of depth as well. It doesn’t matter whether the boys started or came off the bench.”

Hutchinson said the Australians are a sharp team but the New Zealanders are focusing on playing their game to get the job done.

The team enjoyed having two members of the All Blacks coaching panel provide mentorship and calm words to the group.

“The guys are grateful to have people like this around and we’ve had the opportunity to pick their brains whenever we can. It’s pretty exciting.”

Like many of the players, Hutchinson has had support. His parents have visited the area and he has the support of two sisters who live in Brisbane.