The Wellington Under-19 squad to contest the Jock Hobbs Memorial U19 Tournament in Taupo has been announced by head coach Zak Feaunati.
The 25-strong squad includes players from ten of Wellington's 17 senior clubs and includes two members of the 2017 Wellington Lions Mitre 10 Cup squad in Marist St Pats midfielder Billy Proctor and Petone halfback Carlos Price.
Proctor will co-captain the team alongside Old Boys University flanker Naera Tipoki when Wellington's Jock Hobbs Memorial campaign kicks off against North Harbour in Taupo on Sunday (September 10).
Feaunati said whittling the squad down had been a tough one with some talented players missing out during an extensive trial period.
"The selection process begun back in March and we have had regular skills and fitness checkpoints to make sure we've been across all of the players in contention. There have been some tough calls, but I'm really pleased with the squad we've ended up with.
"I think we have a good balance in the squad. Last year there were a lot of Lions players, particularly in the forwards, but this year the talent is spread across the squad."
The final squad is made up of four players each from Oriental-Rongotai, Petone, and Marist St Pats, with three from Northern United and Old Boys University, two from Paremata-Plimmerton and Poneke and one from each of Tawa, Johnsonville and Hutt Old Boys Marist.
Wellington emerged from the Hurricanes region as top qualifier after wins over the Under 19 teams of the Heartland Barbarians, Hawke's Bay, and Manawatu.
"We've had three tough games which has been a real positive leading into the tournament. Our goal as a team has been to simply improve with every week leading into the tournament and I think we've done that.
"Manawatu were a very good team, physical and that was a good dress rehearsal. I think our squad has gelled together well since we've been together."
Feaunati said the squad were not looking past their first match against North Harbour.
"There is no hiding at this tournament. It's a quarterfinal, that's how we're approaching it. If you win then you earn the right to keep going on Wednesday. We've planned well for North Harbour and that's all we're thinking of right now."
The Jock Hobbs Memorial National U19 Tournament will be played at Taupo’s Owen Delany Park with 400 players from 16 teams competing across two divisions (Premiership and Championship) for the Graham Mourie Cup and Sir Michael Jones Trophy respectively.
The Graham Mourie Cup (Premiership) division is made up of Auckland, North Harbour, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Wellington, Manawatu, Tasman, and Canterbury
Waikato will be out to defend the Graham Mourie Cup while Counties-Manukau will be looking to make it a three-peat of Sir Michael Jones Trophy victories.
The 2017 Wellington Under-19's squad to contest the Jock Hobbs National Tournament in Taupo is:
Forwards: Ben Aumua-Peseta (Tawa), Xavier Numia (Oriental-Rongotai), Pasi Uluilakepa (Petone), Meinrad Fitsemanu (MSP), Jacob Mua (Paremata-Plimmerton), George Jacobs (Poneke), Eammon Carr (Johnsonville), Angus Morton (Petone), Callum-James Watts-Pointer (Northern United), Naera Tipoki (Old Boys University) (co-captain), Willie Heather (Oriental-Rongotai), Jake Quin (Petone), Junior Foatiua (Hutt Old Boys Marist) Chris Hicks (Old Boys University).
Backs: Carlos Price (Petone), Regan Sword (Marist St Pats), Esi Komaisavai (Northern United), Grayson Whitman (Marist St Pats), Billy Proctor ((Marist St Pats) (co-captain), Denzelle To'o (Northern Untied), Jahzeel Marais (Poneke), Sione Ma'u (Oriental-Rongotai), Malachai Unasa (Oriental-Rongotai), Roy Maiva (Paremata-Plimmerton), Adam Clark (Old Boys University).
Unavailable due to Injury: Tisi Finau (Tawa), Reuben Va'a (Oriental-Rongotai)