U20 Exposure Critical Says Leawere

The team consists of local-based players with some having featured in this year’s Skipper Cup.
16 Jul 2019 16:28
U20 Exposure Critical Says Leawere
Vodafone Fijian U20 coach Kele Leawere. Photo: Simione Haravanua

It will be about forging relationships and giving local players exposure when the Vodafone Fijian Under-20 team meet the Maori All Blacks U20 in Rotorua, New Zealand, this Saturday.

The match will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians and Maori All Blacks return Test match.

Fijian U20 head coach Kele Leawere says he expects the Kiwis to put up a stiff challenge on their home turf.

The former Flying Fijians captain believes developing relationships with teams like the Maori All Blacks would be useful in the future when Fiji needs quality opponents to play Test matches against.

The team consists of local-based players with some having featured in this year’s Skipper Cup.

First-five eighth Caleb Muntz, a starter for the Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors side earlier this year, is the only overseas-based player and will join the team in Auckland.

“The exposure will be very important because most of the players in the New Zealand Maori under-20 are playing high level competition in New Zealand,” Leawere said.

“We also want to expose some of our players that did not go to the Junior U-20 World Championship and give them some game time to see what they are capable of.”

The coach said his players would be taking inspiration from the senior team’s 27-10 mauling of the Maori All Black last Saturday in Suva.

One prominent player in the squad is hooker Tevita Ikanivere, who has spent the last two weeks training with John McKee’s Flying Fijians.

Leawere says he wants to see Ikanivere lead from the front, given his capabilities and experience with the senior players.

“It shows that it doesn’t matter what age group you’re in as long as you’re willing to work hard and perform you can get opportunities with the Flying Fijians,” the coach added.

Meanwhile, Maori All Blacks U-20 manager Mark Seymour says, he is expecting the Fijians to put up a “massive challenge” in Rotorua.

“Fiji styles, they are just going to give it a crack. They’re very, very athletic, very sevens style, where everyone will be like a behemoth running with the ball. So, we’re expecting a very expansive game,” Seymour told the New Zealand Herald.

“Alongside that, they will have a good bunch of forwards that are pretty capable. So, I anticipate a massive challenge and we will have to get things pretty well right in order to come away with respectability and a win.”

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

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