10 Junior Wallabies to watch in 2018

Last month, new Australian U20s coach Jason Gilmore named a 54-man extended training squad to begin preparations for the 2018 U20s World Cup in France.

The rebranded Junior Wallabies met for the first of four training camps at the AIS in Canberra late last year and will play matches against New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji in April ahead of the World Cup in France in June.


While there is still plenty of rugby to be played between now and the opening pool match, here are 10 names to watch ahead of the Junior World Cup.

Will Harrison (Flyhalf)

Will Harrison captained Australian Schools last year, despite missing most of the season with a broken leg and quickly justified his selection with an impressive performance against the Kiwis. With Hamish Stewart expected to miss the 2018 Junior World Cup due to Super Rugby commitments, Harrison will likely battle Queenslander Issac Lucas for the starting No.10 jersey. The Randwick playmaker is physical, composed and has a huge boot and will only get better with more game time in 2018.

Rob Valetini (Flanker/No.8)

Anyone that watched Rob Valetini play for the Canberra Vikings in last year’s NRC will be shocked to learn that the Melbourne born backrower is still just 19. Valetini recently signed a two year contract extension at the Brumbies and will add plenty of physicality and spark to the Junior Wallabies forward pack, if he isn’t playing Super Rugby.

Trevor Hosea (Lock)

Victorian born lock Trevor Hosea signed with the Melbourne Rebels as a 16-year old before moving north to Brisbane to finish his schooling. The giant 204cm lock is already an imposing figure and proved he can use his size effectively last year against New Zealand Schools. While he’s not a polished product just yet, Hosea has tons of upside and will be exciting to watch as he continues to grow. Hosea also received the Merv and Iris Allen award last year, which is given to the best team man in the Australian Schoolboys squad.

Harrison Goddard (Halfback)

Harrison Goddard almost kicked Australia into 2017 World Cup knockout stages last year and finished the tournament as the second leading point scorer. Goddard returns in 2018 after spending 12 months training with the Melbourne Rebels. The former Randwick rake will battle talented Canberra halfback Ryan Lonergan for the starting No.9 jersey.

Sama Malolo (Hooker)

After spending 2017 in Perth with the Force, Sama Malolo will return for his second crack at the Junior World Cup this year after a standout Super 20s campaign last season. The Southern Districts colt recently inked a deal with the Melbourne Rebels and will add plenty of physicality to the Junior Wallabies tight five.

Will Eadie (Winger)

Another returning player to the Australian U20s scene, Queenslander Will Eadie was a standout schoolboy and a prolific try scorer. After spending 2017 in the Reds development squad, Eadie will be out to secure a spot in the Junior Wallabies starting XV this year. Eadie has similar finishing abilities to Waratahs outside back Andrew Kellaway, who held the record for most tries at the Junior World Cup until last year.

Harry Hockings (Lock)

206cm Queensland Country lock Harry Hockings has the potential to play 100 Tests for the Wallabies, according to new Reds coach Brad Thorn. Hockings returns for his third Australian U20s campaign and will play a crucial role in the Junior Wallabies 2018 campaign after spending his first summer training with the Reds full time squad.

Issac Lucas (Flyhalf/centre)

The youngest of the talented Lucas clan, Issac starred for Sunnybank in 2017 in his first year out of school and could play either flyhalf or inside centre for the Junior Wallabies this year. With a full season of grade rugby under his belt, Lucas’ experience may give him an edge over Will Harrison in the battle for the No.10 jersey, or the two could combine to form an exciting 10/12 combination.

Ben Donaldson (Fullback)

Classy back Ben Donaldson may have found a new home at fullback after shifting from flyhalf to wear the No.15 for Australian Schools last year. Donaldson had a standout season for Waverley at flyhalf in 2017 but could slot almost anywhere into the Junior Wallabies backline if needed. That versatility may be crucial in France later this year.

Junior Wallabies extended squad

Forwards

Angus Blyth, QLD

Darcy Breen, NSW

Nick Brown, NSW

Will Dearden, QLD

Sean Farrell, QLD

George Francis, NSW

Lloyd Gorman, QLD

Ben Grant, NSW

Esei Ha’angana, VIC

Charlie  Hancock, ACT

Harry Hockings, QLD

Harry Hoopert, QLD

Trevor Hosea, VIC

Josh Kemeny, NSW

Tom Kibble, QLD

Efi Ma’afu, QLD

Sama Malolo, NSW

Hugh Margin, NSW

Fraser McReight, QLD

Tipane  Mavoa  QLD

Josh Nasser, QLD

Dylan Pietsch, AUST 7S

Tom Ross, ACT

Justin Sikimeti, ACT

Rory Sutor, NSW

Lawrence Tominiko, QLD

Rob Valetini, ACT

Pat Tafa, NSW

Backs

Ben Donaldson, NSW

Will Eadie, QLD

Tom Fuller, NSW

Harrison Goddard, VIC

Mack Hansen, ACT

Cooper Harris, NSW

Will Harrison, NSW

Tony Hunt, QLD

Len Ikitau, ACT

Yirribi Jaffer-Williams, NSW

Bayley Kuenzle, NSW

Isiah Latu, ACT

Ryan Lonergan, ACT

Isaac Lucas, QLD

Tate McDermott, QLD

Matt McTaggart, NSW

Jackson Mohi, NSW

Jordan Morris, NSW

Luke Osborne, NSW

Jordan Petaia, QLD

James Ramm, NSW

Hamish Stewart, QLD

Will Terry, NSW

Semisi Tupou, VIC

Nick Wilkinson, NSW

POOLS

2018 U20s World Championship

Pool A

New Zealand, Australia, Wales and Japan

Pool B

England, Scotland, Italy and Argentina

Pool C

South Africa, France, Ireland and Georgia