Players set for world champs

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Southland rugby players Flynn Thomas (left) and Jay Renton will take part in the under-20 world championships which start in France next week.

FLYNN Thomas and Jay Renton are about to break a bit of a drought for Southland rugby.

Thomas and Renton are members of the New Zealand squad which will compete at the under-20 world championships which start in France this week.

Renton and Thomas will be the first Southlanders to represent New Zealand at the under-20 world championships since Tayler Adams played in the tournament in France in 2013.

The other Southlanders to play for New Zealand at under-20 or under-21 level since 2000 are: Scott Eade, Marty McKenzie, Tuki Raimona (2012), Elliot Dixon, Brayden Mitchell, Robbie Robinson, Alex Ryan (2009), Josh Bekhuis (2007), Jamie Mackintosh (2005 and 2006), Jimmy Cowan (2002 and 2003), Corey Flynn (2001) and Clarke Dermody (2001 and 2002).

Thomas, a hooker, and Renton, a halfback, are both Southland Boys’ High School products and made their Mitre 10 Cup debuts last year with the Stags.

The Southland pair are expected to gain plenty of game time at the world championship with New Zealand carrying just two specialist hookers and two specialist halfbacks in its squad of 28.

The second hooker named is Otago’s Ricky Jackson, who Thomas went head-to-head with when Jackson was at Otago Boys’ High School and Thomas captained Southland Boys’.

Renton started at halfback in the Oceania Championship final when New Zealand beat Australia, while Thomas came off the bench.

Stags coach Dave Hewett is also part of the New Zealand under-20 set up as an assistant coach.

New Zealand’s campaign will begin with a game against Japan this Thursday.

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