In the midst of State of Origin fever, some of rugby league’s biggest stars face off in Test matches tomorrow during NRL Representative Round, putting national pride on the line.
At 3.00pm Saturday, New Zealand and Tonga meet in Test match footy – LIVE from Mt Smart stadium in Auckland – in a crunching battle packed with top-tier talent. Tonga has a devastating pack, including the bulldozers Siosiua Taukeiaho, Peni Terepo, Tevita Pangai Jr and Jason Taumalolo, who hold the key to a visitors’ victory.
The Kiwis have backline brilliance to burn. The dynamic Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Joseph Manu, Shaun Johnson and Benji Marshall could tilt the contest away from the awesome Tongan advantage in their forwards.
Following this at 5.30pm, the action shifts to Leichhardt Oval for the Ox & Palm Pacific Test Invitational double-header.
In the first game, Fiji are strong favourites to beat Lebanon. Fiji have NRL stars such as Suliasi Vunivalu, Maika Sivo, Viliame Kikau and Korbin Sims to stamp their authority, but Lebanon cannot be underestimated. They are led by seasoned NRL campaigners in Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah, with familiar names such as Reece Robinson and Michael Lichaa also in a side that will revel in the underdog tag.
Finally, from 7.30pm, Samoa collides with Papua New Guinea in a bruising affair not to be missed.
PNG features hardened NRL players in captain James Segeyaro, Rhyse Martin and Kurt Baptiste, and what the Kumuls might lack in absolute class is compensated by their ferocious, never-say-die attitude. It will be on full display against a potent Samoan side which includes Martin Taupau, Junior Paulo, David Nofoaluma and the crafty Anthony Milford, in a game that may prove to be closer than many anticipate.