Two of the Melbourne Rebels brightest prospects have further enhanced their growing reputations, with Shaw and Partners U19 Academy members Wyatt Ballenger and Joey Fowler, selected in this year’s prestigious Australian Schools and U18 squad.
Today’s announcement kickstarts an exciting period for the duo, with the U19’s in the final stages of preparation for the upcoming 2023 National Rugby Championships, with the Rebels opening match against the Western Force Academy on September 30.
The duo are the latest Rebels Academy players to receive national recognition, following in the footsteps of World Cup Wallabies Rob Leota and Pone Fa’amausili and Australian U20’s star Leafi Talataina.
The Australian U18s will face the Kiwis at Canberra’s Viking Park on 28 September and 2 October, with both games broadcast live and on demand on Stan Sport.
The series marks the resumption of a trans-Tasman contest that was last held in 2019, when an Australian side featuring current Wallabies Tom Hooper and Zane Nonggorr defeated their New Zealand counterparts 18-14.
The squad has assembled at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra under the guidance of head coach Shannon Fraser to begin preparations for the series.
“The Australian Schools & U18s program is a vital step in the rugby journey for these young men and the opportunity to play two games against New Zealand is an exciting one," Fraser said.
“Exposure to international rugby at age group level is essential as we develop the next generation of Super Rugby Pacific and Wallabies stars.
“In selecting this squad we considered not only the ability the players have already shown across provincial, club and school games, but also their long-term potential as future Wallabies.
“The challenge now lies in bringing them together as a group to perform against what will no doubt be a strong New Zealand team.”
2023 AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS & U18s SQUAD
Lipina Ata (NSW Waratahs, Newington College)
Will Goddard (NSW Waratahs, Knox Grammar School)
Lachlan Doheny (NSW Waratahs, Eastwood Rugby Club)
Aden Ekanayake (NSW Waratahs, Gordon Rugby Club)
Austin Durbridge (NSW Waratahs, The Kings School)
Toby Brial (NSW Waratahs, The Scots College)
Nathaniel Tiitii (NSW Waratahs, The Kings School)
Samuel Niulala (NSW Waratahs, Trinity Grammar School)
Avery Thomson (QLD Reds, Brisbane Boys College)
Lehopa Leota (QLD Reds, Iona College)
Fergus Gillan (QLD Reds, The Southport School)
Oliver Barrett (QLD Reds, St Joseph's Nudgee College)
Macarius Pereira (QLD Reds, St Joseph's Nudgee College)
Charlie Brosnan (QLD Reds, Brothers Rugby Club)
Wyatt Ballenger (Melbourne Rebels, Marcellin College)
Hwi Sharples (NSW Waratahs, St Joseph's College)
Boston Fakafonua (NSW Waratahs, The Kings School)
Brendan Palmer (NSW Waratahs, Hunter Wildfires)
Leo Jaques (NSW Waratahs, The Scots College)
Joe Walsh (NSW Waratahs, St Augustine's College)
Dre Pakeho (QLD Reds, Brothers Rugby Club)
Luke Aiken (QLD Reds, Sunshine Coast Grammar School)
Finn Prass (QLD Reds, Brothers Rugby Club)
Xavier Rubens (QLD Reds, Brisbane Boys College)
Joey Fowler (Melbourne Rebels, Sydney University Rugby Club)
Shane Wilcox (ACT Brumbies, Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Club)
Game 1 - 2.10pm AEST Thursday 28 September - Viking Park, Canberra
Game 2 - 12.10pm AEST Monday 2 October - Viking Park, Canberra