Wellington Under-19 coach Dion Waller feels the squad is in the best possible shape as it prepares to kick off the Jock Hobbs Memorial tournament in Taupo on Sunday.
"The squad is feeling really good after winning the Hurricanes Shield and finishing top but we all know how hard tournament conditions are and at the moment we are solely focussed on facing Taranaki on Sunday," Waller said.
That match against Taranaki, which is scheduled to start at 4pm, will feature the top Hurricanes region qualifier against the second seed from the Chiefs region.
Waller said the squad had taken some confidence out of the fact they had won their three qualifying matches but he believed there was still a level of improvement in the squad.
Having finished seventh at the 2017 tournament, Wellington were desperate to finish higher this year and that meant they would have to beat Taranaki before their second match on Wednesday.
"The boys are fit, we've gelled really well together and we are prepared to do the hard yards which we have done leading up to the tournament," Waller added.
Wellington have just two players backing up from 2017 with Poneke's George Jacobs and Old Boys University's Laurence Lim returning.
North Harbour, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Canterbury go into the premiership top of their pools after playing pre-tournament seeding matches and they will be joined by defending champions Auckland, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay and Tasman in the top eight to compete for the Graham Mourie Cup.
Northland, Waikato, Manawatu, Otago, Auckland Development, Counties Manukau, Heartland and Southland make up the Championship division and will compete for the Michael Jones Trophy.
The Wellington U19 squad to attend the tournament in Taupo is:
Des Matofai (Tawa), Nick Apikatoa (HOBM), Tane Te Aho (OBU), George Jacobs (Poneke), Tanara Haenga. Wainuiomata), Naitoa Ah Kuoi (MSP), Taine Plumtree (OBU), Caleb Delany (OBU), DJ Taoipu (Poneke), Xavier English (MSP), Jack Wright (UH Rams), Ricky Manulaiatea (MSP), Laurence Lim (OBU), Misi Faimalo (Norths), Shamus Langton (OBU), Callum Harkin (Wellington), Kyle Preston (Tawa), Raniera Petersen (UH Rams), Kienan Higgins (Norths), Albert Polu (HOBM), Tisi Finau (Tawa), Rueben Va’a (Ories), Tai Neli (OBU), Tom Maiava (Tawa), Todd Svenson (UH Rams)