SOUTHLAND rugby players Flynn Thomas and Jay Renton are set to embark on one of the more busy and intense periods of their promising careers.
The talented pair will take a break from Southland club rugby after they lined up for Marist and Blues, respectively, in the premier fixture in Invercargill last Saturday.
On Sunday they headed to Dunedin where they will play for the Highlanders Bravehearts against a visiting Japanese team on Saturday in the curtain-raiser to the Highlanders v Brumbies Super Rugby game.
Thomas and Renton will then link with the New Zealand under-20 team in Auckland to prepare for the Oceania Championships on the Gold Coast in Australia.
They will play three games in 12 days at the Oceania Championships against Tonga, Fiji and Australia. New Zealand’s first game is against Tonga on April 27.
More than 60 players started the selection process at various New Zealand under-20 camps before numbers were cut to 30 players for the Oceania Championships.
A further four players are expected to miss out when the team is named for the World Championships in France next month.
Renton is one of three halfbacks named for the Oceania Championships and Thomas one of three hookers included.
The former Southland Boys’ High School first 15 team-mates were both part of the Stags squad last season and are expected to be key figures for Southland in the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup.
Thomas claimed the bragging rights on Saturday with his Marist team beating Renton’s Blues team 19-14.
In other Premier club rugby fixtures on Saturday, Woodlands beat Pirates-Old Boys 40-15 and Star toppled the Eastern-Northern Barbarians 22-18 in Gore.