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As Kiwis fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad ran on to the field on Saturday against the Kangaroos in Hamilton, he repeated a simple mantra.

It had been on his mind all week, as he promised himself – and his teammates – that he would deliver.

I can, he said quietly. And I will.

But this was more than just motivation, as he was battling the odds.

The 28-year-old produced a man of the match performance, in easily the best game of his international career. And he did it despite a broken rib, which meant he couldn’t train fully over the past two weeks, after the bone was smashed up against Samoa at Eden Park.

“It was really painful in the Samoan game,” Nicoll-Klokstad told the Herald. “It was a bit sore last week. I had to get two separate painkilling jabs and have a huge pad. But it came back to that mentality thing; I missed the mark mentally last week.”

There were many heroes on Saturday as the Kiwis completed a famous victory over the Kangaroos – just their second in 10 clashes since 2016 – with their 30-0 triumph. But Nicoll-Klokstad typified the desire, determination and camaraderie in this squad.

It was only his fourth test at fullback but the kind of performance that will be long remembered, especially given the physical baggage. Three weeks ago, against Samoa, he felt an instant rush of pain as he braced for contact in a tackle. It was a good, legal hit but something wasn’t quite right and it was more than a knock.

”It happened early in the game, 15 minutes in,” said Nicoll-Klokstad. “I ran off the field at halftime to get it jabbed and that’s when they found out.”

It made the following week a challenge, as the Kiwis prepared to play Australia in Melbourne.

”That was the hardest,” said Nicoll-Klokstad. “I had to get my head around moving with it and knowing that, yep, it was broken and I’ve just got to get through the session.”

He didn’t do any contact work but still couldn’t avoid reminders.

”I couldn’t even sneeze, that was a bit painful,” he said, also feeling while it sleeping. It was a compromised preparation and he was far from his best in Melbourne, as the Kiwis were outpointed 36-18.

Nicoll-Klokstad was pinned in his own territory for much of the match, unable to impose himself on the game.

”It was a good learning curve for me personally, I felt I was a little bit too much in my head and missed my assignment,” he said. “I didn’t play the standard I wanted to play and it came back to a mentality thing.”

”I was really looking forward to this week because I knew I could be a lot better, getting back to what I know how to do. It was simple; I just had a phrase in my head the whole week. It was – ‘I can and I will’.”

Before Saturday’s match he had injections in two separate areas to numb the area, popped a couple of painkillers and strapped a large pad over his left chest.

”Then I was good to go.”

And what a display. He made 277 metres from 30 carries, with six tackle busts. He created two line breaks, set up a try with a reflex pass and organised his defence superbly.

”I wanted to make amends,” said Nicoll-Klokstad. “Be better, be my best. Hopefully the boys are proud of the effort.”

With jubilant fans staying on a long time around the final whistle, the magnitude of the victory began to sink in.

”I’m honoured, proud, grateful – so many emotions and feelings,” said Nicoll-Klokstad. “First win against Australia and what a way to do it too.”

His proud coach Maguire summed up the effort.

“He actually wasn’t meant to play,” admitted Maguire. “It just goes to show what players will do when they are playing for their country. He wasn’t quite sure after the Samoan game if he would keep going but he didn’t want to leave [camp] and when you have got things like that going on within your group and then good leadership, you come up with some special performances.”

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Kiwis’ winger Ronaldo Mulitalo has found personal redemption.

Mulitalo capped off a difficult three weeks – revealing he had copped plenty of online abuse and vitriol during the Pacific Championships campaign – with a brilliant display in the Kiwis’ 30-0 win over Australia in Hamilton.

The negativity is nothing new for Mulitalo. For more than two years he has faced questions, jibes and doubts over his commitment to his country of birth, after the controversial State of Origin eligibility drama in 2021.

Mulitalo was born and raised in Auckland, playing for the Ellerslie Eagles, among other clubs, before his family emigrated to Brisbane when he was 13. He represented Queensland at the Under-18 and Under-20 levels and was called up for Origin in 2021, before being dramatically scratched 24 hours before kickoff, as a check of the revised rules found he was ineligible, due to his arrival in the Sunshine State after his 13th birthday.

That caused a media storm at the time – with many questioning the inept administration that led to the blunder – while Mulitalo was devastated.

“Heartbroken and lost for words,” he wrote on social media. “All I wanted to do was don this Maroon jersey and represent this great state.

That led to questions, when he was selected for New Zealand last year, that it was only his fallback option.

But there can’t be any doubts about his commitment now. He was a strong performer at last year’s World Cup, then had his finest match in the black and white V last Saturday, with numerous telling interventions in the stunning victory, also scoring his eighth try in nine tests.

“One of the things that tested me was people questioning my pride in New Zealand and my jersey,” said Mulitalo. “But when I set my mind to something and it means something to me, I go balls-out for it and it definitely feels like that, showing my pride in this jersey and what it means to me. I’m not just here because I’m here, I’m here to bring my game and put some pride in the jersey.

Mulitalo said he had put the “whole saga” of the Queensland episode behind him – ”I’ve moved on with my life” – even if a lot of other people haven’t.

“The whole week I have been getting abused, the whole campaign, from certain people for different things,” the 23-year-old said. “I’ve just been getting hammered, not only online. My family sees stuff like that and I just really wanted to come out with a statement. I know that this game meant so much to New Zealand in general and the game of rugby league in New Zealand. Hopefully there [were] some kids in the crowd or watching on television that saw how proud they could be of New Zealand and be in this jersey one day.”

Mulitalo was electric, particularly in the first half. Two long-range line breaks sparked the Kiwis – and the crowd – as did his celebrations after the first try, his eighth in nine tests. He also soared, AFL-style, to claim a defensive goal-line drop-out – which defused pressure at a crucial stage – and produced one of the hits of the season on Valentine Holmes, flattening the Kangaroos winger.

“I don’t even remember the hit – I just got up,” said Mulitalo. “I don’t normally tackle so it was unfamiliar waters that I was in. I got up, [carried] on like a goose and hopefully [gave] the boys a bit of a lift.”

Though the Kiwis won’t reassemble until next October – due to the NRL’s unfortunate scheduling – the memory of what unfolded last Saturday will last a long time.

“I’m super proud of the whole group,” said Mulitalo. “How we have pulled ourselves together, representing our country like that means the world to us.”

“Whether we made history, nothing mattered more than a win for us and putting pride back in the jersey and making New Zealand so proud of us. Whether we won by one point or 30 points it doesn’t matter, a win was the main thing.”

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The New Zealand Kiwis have taken out the inaugural Pacific Cup final after keeping the Kangaroos scoreless 30-0 to orchestrate an international upset in Hamilton on Saturday.

A 12-0 scoreline had the New Zealand faithful daring to dream at halftime and the fairytale final continued as the Kiwis ran in another 18 unanswered points to hand the Kangaroos for the first time since 2018.

Seven days after going down to their Tasman rivals 36-18 in Melbourne, Michael Maguire’s side were all class with halves Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown steering the ship and wingers Ronaldo Mulitalo and Jamayne Isaako dazzling on the edges.

Held scoreless for the first time since their 2005 Tri-Nations final defeat to New Zealand, the Kangaroos costs themselves any chance to break down the Kiwis’ early momentum with 50 missed tackles and 11 errors leading to their heaviest-ever international defeat.

After several Kangaroos errors gifted his side early possession, winger Mulitalo started and finished it for the Kiwis opening try, making a long-range break before finishing a left side sweep later in the set. Isaako’s conversion made it 6-0 after 16 minutes.

The Kangaroos looked to strike back in the 25th minute when Daly Cherry-Evans looped a long ball to the right but Mulitalo produced an incredible shot to deny Valentine Holmes an opportunity to cross the line.

The Kiwis continued with their early momentum and were rewarded in the 35th minute, with their star-studded spine linking up to set up an airborne Isaako on the right and extend their lead 12-0 at the break.

Some early mistakes in the second half heaped more pressure on the Kangaroos and the Kiwi wingers pounced again with a Hughes cut out pass opening the door for Isaako to bag a double after another aerial finish in the corner.

New Zealand were on their way to a Pacific Championship trophy with Brown’s quick hands putting Timoko in space to score his first international try.

With eight minutes remaining New Zealand were able to put the game away with Griffin Neame tearing through the Kangaroos line to score under the posts and put the finishing touches on their Pacific Cup victory.

Match Snapshot

  • Kangaroos forward Cameron Murray was ruled out of the match on game day with Rueben Cotter starting in the backrow and Nicho Hynes joining the bench.
  • In a dominant first half showing the Kiwis enjoyed 59 per cent of possession to keep the Kangaroos scoreless at half time for the first time since 2005.
  • Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad had 277 running metres and six tackle breaks to go in a player of the match performance.
  • The Kangaroos missed 38 tackles in the first half, 21 more than the Kiwis (17).
  • Australia recorded their biggest Test losing margin after going down to New Zealand by 24 points in 1952 and 2005.
  • Last time Kiwis beat Kangaroos was in 2018.
  • New Zealand had lost seven of their past eight Tests against Australia.

Play of the Game

With the Kiwis boasting a 6-0 lead, the Kangaroos looked to strike back early but winger Ronaldo Mulitalo produced a monster shot to deny Valentine Holmes an early opportunity on the line in a crucial momentum shifter for New Zealand.

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The Kiwis have the home-ground advantage while the Kangaroos have the momentum heading into Saturday’s Pacific Cup Final in Hamilton.

With Val Holmes contributing 16 points and Lindsay Collins grabbing the first try double of his career, the Kangaroos proved too strong for the Kiwis in a 36-18 triumph in Melbourne last weekend.

The Kangaroos have now won all 12 Test matches played in Australia since Mal Meninga took the helm but they will face a hostile reception from the fans at Waikato’s FMG Stadium and also from a fired up Kiwi forward pack seeking redemption.

Both sides are set to be at full strength for the decider and nothing will be left in the tank in the final match of another long and testing season for the game’s superstars.

The Kiwis have proven countless times during the past 20 years that lead-up form goes out the window when the silverware is on the line and the likes of James Fisher-Harris and Joe Tapine are sure to bring the heat to the early exchanges.

Team News

Kiwis: Coach Michael Maguire sticks with the same 17-man squad that went down to the Kangaroos in Melbourne with Joey Manu remaining in the centres and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad staying at fullback. Roosters youngster Naufahu Whyte is 18th Man once again.

Kangaroos: Props Payne Haas and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui return to the side after being rested last weekend so Jake Trbojevic and Tom Flegler make way. Liam Martin is also back in the starting side so Reuben Cotter reverts to the bench and last week’s debutant Nicho Hynes goes to 18th Man.

Stat Attack

  • This will be the first time since the Four Nations final in Wellington in 2014 that NZ has hosted a championship decider
  • This will be only the second time since 2014 that the Kiwis have played the Kangaroos in NZ
  • The last Trans-Tasman clash on New Zealand soil was the one-off Test at Go Media Stadium in 2018 when the Kiwis triumphed 26-24.
  • Both sides completed at 82 per cent in their clash in Melbourne last weekend. The Kangaroos completed 32 of 39 sets and the Kiwis completed 28 of 34.
  • Adam Blair and Ruben Wiki hold the record for most appearances for NZ against Australia with 24.

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Auckland, New Zealand, October 31, 2023 – For the third week running the New Zealand Kiwis will have the same side when they face the Kangaroos in Saturday’s Pacific Championships final at FMG Stadium in Hamilton (5.00pm kick-off).

The competition decider pits the Trans-Tasman foes against each other on New Zealand soil for only the third time in 11 years.

The most recent was the one-off international at Go Media Stadium in Auckland in 2018 when the Kiwis stunned the Australians 26-24.

Five years on only centre Joseph Manu – who debuted that night – and captain James Fisher-Harris remain in the line-up playing this week.

In the only other Trans-Tasman battle in New Zealand since 2012, the Kiwis beat the Kangaroos 22-18 in the Four Nations final in Wellington in 2014.

The only survivor from the New Zealand side that night is the 33-year-old Kieran Foran who’s set for his 31st Test this week after making his debut as a 19-year-old in 2009.

The Kiwis go into Saturday’s final on the back of last Saturday’s 18-36 loss to Australia in Melbourne but are buoyed by having a rare opportunity to meet them at home.

“The players are excited about playing in such an important Test and doing so in front of a passionate home crowd,” said Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.

“We’ve got great belief in our side and I’ve got a lot on confidence in where we’re going.

“We’ve had a good look at where we need to be better from last week and the boys will take those lessons into Saturday’s match in Hamilton.”

Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown are paired in the halves for the sixth consecutive Test while Penrith’s premiership-winning props James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota again lead the Kiwis’ charge in the middle of the park.

In the past 26 years, New Zealand and Australia have clashed only 15 times on this side of the Tasman with the Kiwis claiming six wins to Australia’s eight with one draw.

 

PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL

 

NZ KIWIS v KANGAROOS

FMG STADIUM, HAMILTON

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2023

 

 

NO. PLAYERS NAME HERITAGE NUMBER
1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD #820
2 RONALDO MULITALO #824
3 MATTHEW TIMOKO #832
4 JOSEPH MANU #815
5 JAMAYNE ISAAKO #808
6 DYLAN BROWN #826
7 JAHROME HUGHES #819
8 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (c) #801
9 KIERAN FORAN #757
10 MOSES LEOTA #827
11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I #817
12 BRITON NIKORA #818
13 JOSEPH TAPINE #800
14 FA’AMANU BROWN #835
15 NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA #804
16 GRIFFIN NEAME #834
17 LEO THOMPSON #833
18 NAUFAHU WHYTE
19 WIREMU GREIG
20 KEANO KINI

 

Auckland, New Zealand, October 30, 2023 – The Kiwis take rugby league back to New Zealand rugby union’s home ground Eden Park tomorrow to begin their build-up for Saturday’s Pacific Championships against the Australian Kangaroos at FMG Waikato Stadium in Hamilton (5.00pm kick-off).

It was at Eden Park that the Kiwis opened their campaign with a 50-0 win over Toa Samoa on an emotion-charged occasion on October 21.

The two finalists arrived in Auckland yesterday following the Kangaroos’ 36-18 win over the New Zealanders in Melbourne on Saturday night.

“We appreciate the opportunity to have the Kiwis training at Eden Park,” said New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters.

“It’s a big week for the game in New Zealand, the first time since the Four Nations final in Wellington in 2014 that we’ve had a championship decider played here.

“It’s also only the second time since then that the Kiwis have played the Kangaroos in New Zealand.”

The last Trans-Tasman clash on New Zealand soil was the one-off Test at Go Media Stadium in 2018 when the Kiwis triumphed 26-24.

After training in Auckland tomorrow, the Kiwis travel to Hamilton on Wednesday where they will mix with the public at a signing session at Centre Place in the central city scheduled for 3.00pm.

They have a field session on Thursday morning before winding up their on-field preparations at FMG Waikato Stadium on Friday.

 

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The Gallagher Kangaroos got the better of the Kiwis in a 36-18 win on Saturday night, setting the scene for an intriguing Pacific Championships final showdown between the two nations next week in Hamilton.

Australia never trailed in the contest and after an opening 21 minutes in which the match ebbed and flowed, they always enjoyed a lead on the scoreboard, with a double from front-rower Lindsay Collins and the accurate boot of returning winger Valentine Holmes doing much of the damage at AAMI Park.

While Australia were already 12-6 up when he entered the field in the 27th minute, Harry Grant was the man who kicked the Kangaroos up a notch when the game sat in the balance, while fellow Queenslander Patrick Carrigan was big off the bench too, carrying 16 times for 145 metres.

As good as their opponents were at times, the Kiwis had nobody but themselves to blame for falling behind early, with Jahrome Hughes kicking out on the full – after Jamayne Isaako had already booted the start of play dead on the fly – to gift possession for Holmes’ opener on nine minutes, which was his 20th try in as many Tests.

Hughes laid on a reply to Briton Nikora 10 minutes later, before Collins scored twice in the space of nine minutes, after following up keenly in attacking territory, to give the Kangaroos a handy 18-6 lead.

It would have stayed that way at the break but for Ronaldo Mulitalo soaring through the air to claim a high ball with a minute to go in the half, with that try reducing the Kiwis’ deficit to six once again.

Eleven minutes after the restart of play Panthers ace Dylan Edwards went over for his first try as a Kangaroo and with Holmes maintaining his perfect day with the boot Australia had some comfort on the scoreboard again.

The Kiwis then gave away an obstruction penalty while working the ball out of their own end, handing Holmes a simple two from the ensuing penalty which stretched the lead to 26-12.

A stinging carry from James Fisher-Harris presented Fa’amanu Brown with the chance to burrow over with 11 to play and the two-Test Kiwi made no mistake, reducing the gap to eight temporarily.

But they collapsed badly from there, leaking late tries to Ben Hunt and Cameron Murray which blew the final scoreline out ahead of next week’s return match in Hamilton.

Match Snapshot

  • The Kangaroos have now won seven of their past eight Tests against New Zealand.
  • Australia won despite having less possession (48 percent to 52 percent).
  • Captain James Tedesco had a game-high 190 metres from fullback, while winger Ronaldo Mulitalo led the way for the Kiwis with 139.
  • Nelson Asofa-Solomona went on report in the 53rd minute for a Dangerous Tackle.
  • Dylan Edwards further pushed his claims to be a first-choice winger for the final, with 14 runs for 121 metres, a try and two line breaks on the wing.
  • A head clash with 18 minutes to play between James Fisher-Harris and Joseph Tapine saw both players require treatment but remain on the field.
  • Cameron Munster left the field with eight minutes to play and didn’t return due to cramp.
  • Thomas Flegler and Nicho Hynes both made their Test debut in the win.

Play of the Game

As impressive as the pass was from Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to set it up, the real beauty in this one sits with hulking front-rower Lindsay Collins, who got over for the first of his two tries on the night. Having just entered the field from the bench, Collins followed up intelligently to be in the picture and went over for a memorable four-pointer.

What They Said

“I thought it was an excellent performance and the things we wanted to get through we did. Our second half was amazing, our completion rate was great, we controlled field position and we have got some quality players in our footy team that can take advantage of that. The beauty of our team is that they keep going… it’s fun to coach. The effort was really good not only tonight, but through the week. ” – Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.

“There was a lot of good about it, but we will take a fair bit out of it for what we need to do this [coming] week and tidy up. The second half I felt we probably just weren’t where we needed to be. Australia spent a lot of time in our half and when you are having to defend like that it’s [using] energy. We put ourselves under a fair bit of pressure.” – Kiwis coach Michael Maguire. 

What’s Next

The two nations meet again on November 4 at FMG Stadium Waikato, with the stakes even higher as they play to become inaugural winners of the Pacific Championships. The Kangaroos are likely to have a couple of changes with rested players returning, while it remains to be seen if Kiwis coach Michael Maguire opts to name an unchanged 17 for the third week in a row.

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A courageous defensive performance led the Kiwi Ferns to their first victory over Australia in seven years on Saturday afternoon, as they edged past the world champions 12-6 in Melbourne.

With seven minutes to play in a match which saw them spend long periods camped on their own line and enjoy few opportunities in attacking territory, Leianne Tufuga scored her first try at Test level to end New Zealand’s seven-game winless streak against their trans-Tasman neighbours.

From there the Kiwi Ferns did what they had done for the entire game and toughed it out off the ball, denying Australia any right of reply at AAMI Park in the second game of their two-match Pacific Championships series, the first of which saw the Jillaroos run out 16-10 winners.

From the opening exchanges the Jillaroos dominated possession and looked the superior team on the ball, but outside of Jaime Chapman’s opener on 10 minutes, they couldn’t break down the stoic Kiwi defence.

Despite dominating all of the key stat categories through the opening 35 minutes, Australia found themselves heading to the sheds tied at 6-6, with a later-ruled-out claim from Tamika Upton their only action after Chapman’s try out wide.

Dominant as they were, Brad Donald’s side continuously shot themselves in the foot with errors which saw them complete under 40 percent of their first-half sets.

It was a one-on-one strip from Tiana Davison, who had just entered the field from the bench, which gave the Kiwi Ferns possession to send Mele Hufanga over in the final minute of the half.

Another Jillaroos turnover looked to have led to a go-ahead try for New Zealand, but Apii Nicholls’ effort was ruled out when the Bunker found obstruction in the lead up.

As Australia continued to boss time on the ball, New Zealand continued to come up with big plays in defence and turn their rivals away, with the best of them coming 16 minutes from full-time when they rallied to deny Jakiya Whitfeld a try on debut.

Then with seven to play they finally got their breakthrough at the other end, spreading wide for Tufuga to score, with McGregor nailing the sideline conversion.

Match Snapshot

  • It was New Zealand’s first win over Australia in the women’s game in seven years and ended a seven-game winless streak for them against the Jillaroos.
  • It was Australia’s first loss in 18 Tests.
  • Raecene McGregor underwent a HIA midway through the second half which she passed, returning for the final 14 minutes.
  • Kezie Apps went on report for contacting Mele Hufanga’s head with her shoulder in the 57th minute, with the tackle resulting in Hufana leaving the field for a HIA.
  • Olivia Kernick was placed on report for a Dangerous Tackle in the 61st minute.
  • The match marked Jillaroos co-captain Kezie Apps’ 15th Test and the international debut for winger Jakiya Whitfeld and hooker Emma Manzelman.

Play of the Game

As the 2023 NRLW season and the Pacific Championships have proven, there is no more dangerous play in women’s rugby league right now than Mele Hufanga with a one-on-one matchup near the line. The Broncos star was always going to score after Tyla Nathan-Wong dropped her under just before the break, with Tamika Upton no chance of stopping the powerhouse centre.

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Two weeks after going to head-to-head in Townsville the Australian Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns will meet again to round out the inaugural Women’s Pacific Championships.

It was the Jillaroos who came out on top in Week 1 with debutant Tamika Upton showing her class on the international stage to get the green and gold home 16-10 in a thrilling battle at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

The Ferns were straight back on the training paddock last week and looked to have built on their combinations, with halfback Raecene McGregor and centres Abigail Roache and Mele Hufanga sparking a 28-10 win over Mate Ma’a Tonga on Saturday.

After losing to their arch-rivals by 50 points in last year’s World Cup Final, Ricky Henry’s side will have taken plenty of heart from the six-point loss in Townsville and will be desperate to get their first win over the Jillaroos since 2016.

Meanwhile, Brad Donald’s Jillaroos will head to Melbourne well-rested and well-prepared to face the Ferns after a weekend off.

Donald fields a similar side to the that got the job done against the Ferns a fortnight ago and the Aussies will be buoyed by the inclusion of debutant Jakiya Whitfeld, who stole the show with four tries at the Australian Prime Ministers XIII’s clash last month.

Kiwi Ferns: Co-captain Shanice Parker is set to play her third different position in as many weeks after being named on the wing, following stints at centre and fullback against the Jillaroos and Mate Ma’a Tonga respectively. Her move is triggered by the return of Raiders flyer Apii Nicholls at fullback, with Cheyelle Robins-Reti the player to make way. The forward pack is unchanged from last week’s win over Tonga, while on the bench Ash Quinlan replaces Capri Paekau and Jasmine Fogavini comes in for the injured Amelia Pasikala.

Jillaroos: Wests Tigers star Jakiya Whitfeld will make her Test debut in place of  Julia Robinson (personal reasons). Lauren Brown is the new hooker with Keeley Davis going to the reserves. Cowboys hooker Emma Manzelmann makes her international debut off the bench while Yasmin Clydsdale has also been added to the interchange with Caitlan Johnston out due to injury.

Kiwis v Kangaroos – Saturday 28th October 8:00pm AAMI Park Melbourne

Available to watch on Sky Sport

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The Kangaroos and Kiwis meet in a preview of the Pacific Championships final with both sides having already qualified for next week’s decider in Hamilton.

The last time the great Trans-Tasman rivals met was last year’s World Cup semi-final with the Kangaroos getting home 16-14 on the back of tries to Josh Addo-Carr, Val Holmes and Cam Murray.

Every contest between the Kangaroos and Kiwis offers the chance to make a statement and claim bragging rights so nothing will be left in the tank, particularly in the early exchanges when James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota lock horns with debutant Flegler and Cowboys hard nut Cotter.

Kiwis: An unchanged 17 from last week’s 50-0 hammering of Toa Samoa. After being a late addition to the starting side at hooker in week two, Kieran Foran will wear the No.9 jersey against Australia with Fa’amanu Brown reverting to the bench. Brown joins centre Matthew Timoko and fellow bench men Griffin Neame and Leo Thompson in making his second Test appearance for New Zealand. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Joey Manu are expected to again share time at fullback.

 

Kiwis v Kangaroos – Saturday 28th October 10:10pm AAMI Park Melbourne

Available to watch on Sky Sport

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Auckland, New Zealand, October 24, 2023 – An unchanged squad has been named for the New Zealand Kiwis’ Pacific Championships contest against the Kangaroos at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday night (8.10pm kick-off local time).

Kieran Foran is listed in the #9 jersey this week after being selected in the #14 shirt but starting at dummy half in the Kiwis’ commanding 50-0 victory over Toa Samoa at Eden Park last Saturday.

The 33-year-old 282-game NRL veteran is set for his 30th Test since his debut as a 19-year-old against England in the 2009 Four Nations in Huddersfield.

With frontline hookers unavailable, Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire called on halfback Foran to fill the void at dummy half.

He responded with a courageous display in an unbroken 58-minuter shift, finishing the encounter with 52 metres from eight runs and 31 tackles as he fronted up to the Samoans in the middle of the park.

“Kieran put his head in the middle against Samoa and did such a great job for the team,” said Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.

“He’s a hugely passionate Kiwi who has been in this space for 14 years and he’d die for his teammates. He loves the jersey.”

The Kiwis’ win over Samoa followed Australia’s 38-12 victory over the beaten Rugby League World Cup finalist on October 14 ensuring the Trans-Tasman neighbours will meet in the final at FMG Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on November 4.

First they face off in just the fourth Test between the two countries in the Victorian capital.

The first was in 1991 when the New Zealanders famously stunned the Australians 24-8 at Olympic Park.

They met at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome in the 2006 Tri Nations, the Kiwis leading 15-14 before Australia scored late to win 20-15.

Their last meeting was at AAMI Park in the 2006 Anzac Test when the Kangaroos held on for 12-8 triumph.

 

NZ KIWIS v KANGAROOS

AAMI PARK, MELBOURNE

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2023

 

 

NO. PLAYERS NAME HERITAGE NUMBER
1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD #820
2 RONALDO MULITALO #824
3 MATTHEW TIMOKO #832
4 JOSEPH MANU #815
5 JAMAYNE ISAAKO #808
6 DYLAN BROWN #826
7 JAHROME HUGHES #819
8 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (C) #801
9 KIERAN FORAN #757
10 MOSES LEOTA #827
11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I #817
12 BRITON NIKORA #818
13 JOSEPH TAPINE #800
14 FA’AMANU BROWN #835
15 NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA #804
16 GRIFFIN NEAME #834
17 LEO THOMPSON #833
18 NAUFAHU WHYTE Debutant
19 DANNY LEVI #806
20 WIREMU GREIG Debutant
21 KEANO KINI Debutant

 

 

24 October 2023A new Kiwi Ferns line-up has been confirmed for Saturday’s Jillaroos clash, and if there’s one word on everyone’s mind, it’s ‘redemption’.

Kiwi Ferns wing, Shanice Parker is no stranger to coming up against the Jillaroos. Although not making it to the grand final due to injury, she was in last year’s squad who suffered a defeat to Australia in the 2021 Women’s Rugby League World Cup.

It’s that determination to rewrite history that is fueling this new team on, together with a desire to make Wairoa’s Amelia Pasikala proud, following Saturday’s leg injury that cut short her debut tour in the black and white jersey.

“We definitely want to unleash the beast like Ama would on the field. Once she got injured, the girls were saying ‘this is for Ama’ so we are doing this one for her as well,” says Shanice.

Shanice says the team has only continued to get better with each week and game, with Saturday’s match in Melbourne the clincher.

“We’ve had a steady rise and we’ve really connected as a team these past two weeks, so hopefully we can finish on a high against the Jillaroos,” says Shanice.

Head coach Ricky Henry says it has been his toughest selection process yet.

“Those named have consistently proven themselves on-field over the past two weeks. Their naming today is a reward for showing up and giving every training and game their absolute all,” he says.

With the loss of Amelia Pasikala, Henry has been forced to rethink the Kiwi Ferns bench and cover.

Veteran Apii Nicholls returns to fullback, while forward Laishon Albert-Jones is named among inter-change.

Shanice Parker of the Newcastle Knights returns to the wing, alongside Wests Tigers’ Leianne Tufuga.

Mele Hufanga remains at center, following her naming as player of the match against Tonga at Eden Park. Abigail Roache maintains her center position, off the back of her hat-trick on Saturday.

The Kiwi Ferns narrowly lost 16-10 to the Jillaroos in their first encounter with the team on October 14.

Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns kick-off Saturday 28 October 6pm at AAMI Stadium, Melbourne.2023 Kiwi Ferns Pacific Championship Team List: 

1. Apii Nicholls Canberra Raiders
2. Leianne Tufuga Wests Tigers
3. Mele Hufanga Brisbane Broncos
4. Abigail Roache Newcastle Knights
5. Shanice Parker Newcastle Knights
6. Tyla Nathan-Wong St George Illawarra Dragons
7. Raecene McGregor St George Illawarra Dragons
8. Mya Hill-Moana Sydney Roosters
9. Brooke Anderson Cronulla Sharks
10. Angelina Teakaraanga-Katoa St George Illawarra Dragons
11. Annessa Biddle Cronulla Sharks
12. Otesa Pule Sydney Roosters
13. Georgia Hale Gold Coast Titans
Interchange
14. Ashleigh Quinlan Canberra Raiders
15. Najvada George Wests Tigers
16. Jasmine Fogavini Brisbane Broncos
17. Tiana Davison Newcastle Knights
18. Laishon Albert-Jones Newcastle Knights

A double to Jamayne Isaako in first game for the Kiwis since 2019 has helped New Zealand to a dominant 50-0 win over Samoa in their Pacific Championships clash at Eden Park on Saturday.

Named the Ken Irvine Medallist following his 24 tries during the Telstra Premiership season, Isaako’s 25th and 26th tries of 2023 gave Michael Maguire’s side a commanding early lead that they wouldn’t look back from, running away with the contest to secure their first shut-out win on home soil in over two decades.

Playing their first game since a narrow defeat to Australia in last year’s World Cup semi final, New Zealand’s combination of power through the middle and quality work from their outside backs was simply irrepressible as Samoa struggled to generate sustained attacking pressure or go-forward.

Captain James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Joseph Tapine all starred early on for the Kiwis – along with a try-scoring Nelson Asofa-Solomona off the bench – with a blockbuster clash against the likes of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Payne Haas on the cards next week when they face Australia in Melbourne.

Named at fullback ahead of Golden Boot winner Joseph Manu, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad made an impact early for the Kiwis with his clever cut-out sending Isaako over for the first points of the game after 13 minutes.

The 2023 Ken Irvine Medallist was streaking away down the sideline not long after following a mazy run from Matt Timoko, with his Canberra teammate in Tapine sending Jahrome Hughes over at the end of the set to extend the lead to 12-0.

New Zealand’s third try in 11 minutes threatened to open the floodgates, with Isaako the beneficiary again of some clever work in the build-up – wrestling his way past Storm young gun Sua Fa’alogo to push the lead out to 18-0, which is how it would remain at the interval despite a number of close calls for the Kiwis.

Asofa-Solomona would make it a perfect start to the second half for New Zealand when he crashed over from close range before Isaiah Papali’i made it 28-0 with half an hour still to play after racing through to collect a Hughes grubber to score.

Denied a try in the first half when his arm grazed the sideline as he put the ball down, Ronaldo Mulitalo would eventually have his four-pointer when he crossed in the 60th minute – doubling up late on for the first brace of his international career – with late tries to Briton Nikora and Fisher-Harris took the winning margin to 50.

An obstruction denied Tommy Talau Samoa’s best points-scoring opportunity of the game when Daejarn Asi was ruled to have taken an advantage behind the lead runner, with the Kiwis posting a shut-out win in an international fixture for the first time since a 48-0 win over France at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

Match Snapshot

  • The Kiwis had a very late change to their team list as the game began with Fa’amanu Brown going to the bench and Kieran Foran starting at hooker.
  • With the first try of the game, Jamayne Isaako registered his 25th four-pointer for the season after scoring an NRL-leading 24 tries during the season, before doubling up with his 26th try to extend the Kiwis’ lead later on.
  • New Zealand came up with eight first half errors compared to Samoa’s two, but came up with five linebreaks from their 12 completed sets.
  • Isaako had a game high 178 metres and four tackle breaks in the first half, finishing the game with a personal tally of 22 points (two tries, seven goals).
  • Joseph Manu finished the game playing in jersey 20 after having his initial jersey (#4) heavily torn during a first half tackle.
  • Matt Timoko had an impressive 11 tackle breaks on his international debut.
  • New Zealand halves Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown finished with more than 250 running metres between them along with nine tackle breaks.
  • The 50-point victory is New Zealand’s biggest winning margin against Samoa.
Joey Manu doesn't let the lack of a playing jersey hold him back.
Joey Manu doesn’t let the lack of a playing jersey hold him back.©NRL Photos

Play of the Game

Having already crossed for the first try of the game, Jamayne Isaako showed a clean pair of heels to cap off a sweeping move to the right – racing clear of his opposite number in Murray Taulagi before spinning through several tackle attempts by Sua Fa’alogo to extend the Kiwis lead out to three converted tries.

A hat-trick from centre Abigail Roache led the Kiwi Ferns to a 28-10 victory over a Tonga side who played the final half hour a player down following a send off.

Interchange forward Ilaisaane Taufa was marched by referee Wyatt Raymond following a hip-drop style tackle, which saw Roosters and Kiwi Ferns forward Amelia Pasikala taken from the field at Eden Park with a suspected broken leg.

While New Zealand were up 16-6 at the time and looking in control, the incident ended Tonga’s faint hopes of getting up for an upset victory, after they had trailed just 10-6 at half-time.

From there the Kiwi Ferns ran away with it, running in another three tries to claim a comfortable win, although Tonga will take heart from a drastically improved performance compared to past showings.

After Roache dotted down twice in the opening 11 minutes, it was looking like being a cake walk for the home side, before a spate of errors and penalties allowed Tonga back into the game.

It was one of those errors on 26 minutes – with Shanice Parker clean missing a loose ball when she attempted to kick it clear of the in-goal area – that gifted Tiana Penitani a try, which after Cassey Tohi-Hiku’s conversion reduced the gap to four at the break.

But New Zealand made a commanding start to the second period, with Pasikala scoring a try just after the restart of play, before her injury minutes later saw proceedings stopped for several minutes.

Another for Roache, followed by Annessa Biddle’s second try in as many games, and a Mele Hufanga try out wide stretched the gap to 18, with only Penitani’s try in the middle of it halting the Kiwi Ferns’ momentum.

If not for poor goalkicking – with Raecene McGregor converting just two of her side’s six tries – the final scoreline would have looked even better for Ricky Henry’s side.

Match Snapshot

  • The Kiwi Ferns made nine line breaks and broke 46 tackles in the win.
  • New Zealand centre Abigail Roache scored three tries and ran for 172 metres.
  • Kiwi Ferns and Roosters forward Amelia Pasikala suffered a serious lower leg injury on 41 minutes following a hip-drop style tackle which saw Ilaisaane Taufa sent off.
  • Tonga trailed by just four at the break despite only completing 60 percent of their first half sets.
  • Former Jillaroos forward Vanessa Foliaki topped the tackle count for Tonga with 33.

Play of the Game

After a torrid run with injuries, this was arguably Abigail Roache’s best performance in top-flight rugby league. Her unique mix of pace and power was on full display in this try, in which she made light work of the would-be Tongan defenders.

What’s Next

The Kiwi Ferns now prepare to face the Jillaroos in Melbourne, having lost to them by six points when they met earlier this month. Tonga don’t have another game scheduled in 2023, but will now look to build on what was a mostly positive match from their point of view, with Tiana Penitani and co no doubt having their eyes set on bringing a few more Tongan eligible players into the red jersey going forward.

New Zealand Kiwis A and Mate Ma’a Tonga A added another vibrant chapter to the nations’ burgeoning rugby league rivalry, getting the Eden Park triple-header underway with an 11-try thriller.

The Nathan Cayless-coached Kiwis A side ultimately prevailed 36-26 in a match characterised by big momentum swings. Kiwis A were ahead of the clock in storming to a 12-0 advantage, but Tonga A dominated the majority of the first half with the next three tries.

Three unanswered tries after the break put Kiwis A on course for victory, though a late flurry from Tonga A ensured the result was in the balance until the latter stages.

Following stirring pre-match Sipi Tau and haka challenges that would have done any Tonga or Kiwis side that has graced the international arena proud, the home side needed just two minutes to post the opening try after Tonga A’s kick-off sailed dead on the full.

Kiwis A halfback Zach Dockar-Clay and fullback Keano Kini combined superbly to give Melbourne Storm wing sensation Will Warbrick a path to the corner. Warriors livewire Taine Tuaupiki – lining up in the No.6 jersey – bounced the sideline conversion off the crossbar and over for an early 6-0 lead.

Tonga A successfully withstood another dangerous attacking raid, but an ill-conceived offload 10 metres out from their own line under strong defensive pressure gifted a try to Kiwis A second-rower Jack Howarth, a former Australian Schoolboys rep who made his NRL debut with the Storm in August.

After narrowly avoiding further scoreboard damage, Tonga A’s first genuine attacking set came unstuck when a deflected kick saw imposing Warriors NSW Cup tyro Jacob Laban charge 30 metres upfield for Kiwis A. Another chance slipped through the visitors’ fingers when fullback Delouise Hoeter couldn’t grasp a brilliant chip kick with no defenders in front of him.

The errors kept flowing from Kiwis A midway through the first half, but stout goal-line defence compensated for the drop-off in ball control.

The torrent of possession finally told in the 29th minute, however, when a barnstorming dummy-half run from ex-Warriors hooker Temple Koloamatangi-Kalepo opened Tonga A’s account. Naati Teaupa’s conversion pulled the scores back to 12-6.

Tonga A squared the ledger soon afterwards on the back of a magnificent charge from North Queensland-bound centre Viliami Vailea. Auckland-born 19-year-old second-rower Kulikefu Finefeuiaki – who played 12 NRL games for the Cowboys this season – busted the Kiwis A defence a couple of plays later and plunged over for his side’s second try.

The red wave continued to wash over a shellshocked Kiwis A outfit as Salesi Foketi won the race to a deft grubber two minutes out from the break, giving Tonga A a stunning 18-12 halftime lead.

Cayless’ charges returned from the sheds with far greater impetus. Kiwis A forced an early line dropout before Warriors top-grade regular Rocco Berry was held up over the line, but the centre’s incisive run and quick play-the-ball during the hosts’ next set laid the platform for an equalising try.

Hooker Danny Levi, a New Zealand Test rep at the 2017 World Cup and part of the current Kiwis squad, sliced up the Tongan defence and found quicksilver Titans teenager Kini backing up to finish off a 50-metre try under the posts.

Kiwis A regained the lead in the 53rd minute through recent Warriors NRL debutant Paul Roache, who took an offload from Dockar-Clay and made a beeline for the in-goal from 10 metres out.

Multiple errors from Tonga A proved costly as Kiwis A carved out a 12-point advantage at the hour mark.

Kini’s exquisite tip-on of a Tuaupiki pass from a scrum win gave fellow 2023 NRL newcomer, winger Ali Leiataua, a saloon passage to score out wide. Tuaupiki nailed another conversion from touch, his fifth of the afternoon.

Tonga A struck back with 14 minutes remaining – and in their first genuine visit to the opposition’s 20-metre zone in the second half. Classy backline hands opened up some space for big Burleigh Bears winger Tony Francis, who produced a sensational finish to slam the ball on the goal-line. But the missed conversion kept the scoreline at 30-22.

The result was effectively sealed soon after the restart, with Tonga A unable to clean up the kick-off. Great footwork and an even better flick offload from Berry sent Warbrick crashing in for his second try, while another superb sideline goal from Tuaupiki provided Kiwis A with a vital 14-point buffer.

A scoring chance fell by the wayside for Tonga A when Vailea’s long-range run from a Kiwis A mistake was foiled by a magnificent chase and cover tackle from former clubmate Berry. But with three minutes on the clock, excellent vision from Koloamatangi-Kalepo put left winger Sione Hopoate over untouched for the last try of a highly entertaining encounter.

New Zealand A captain Kalani Going, a revelation for the Warriors’ NSW Cup side and an NRL debutant in the final round of 2023, looked every bit the leader on both sides of the ball. Young Kiwis A forwards Howarth, Wiremu Greig, Pasami Saulo, and twin towers Benjamin Te Kura and Joe Chan grabbed their representative opportunity with both hands, while Dockar-Clay, Tuaupiki and Kini consistently provided offensive spark.

New Zealand Kiwis A 36 (Will Warbrick 2, Jack Howarth, Keano Kini, Paul Roache, Ali Leiataua tries; Taine Tuaupiki 6 goals) defeated Tonga A 26 (Temple Koloamatangi-Kalepo, Kulikefu Finefeuiaki, Salesi Foketi, Tony Francis tries; Naati Teaupa 3 goals) at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday, October 21.

October 19, 2023

 

Kalani Going has become the second Northlander in a week to be named to lead a national team after being chosen as captain of the New Zealand Kiwis A side to face Mate Ma’a Tonga A at Eden Park on Saturday.

The 26-year-old follows in the footsteps of Kohukohu-raised James Fisher-Harris who was unveiled on Sunday as the Kiwis’ new captain for their Pacific Championships campaign starting against Toa Samoa on Saturday.

The proud Northlanders were both opponents and teammates in their younger years when Going was at Kamo High School and Fisher-Harris attended Whangarei Boys’ High School.

This week they have been brought together as brothers in arms alongside 35 other players in a camp that’s the first of its kind in New Zealand rugby league history.

For Going the appointment as captain adds another layer to an extraordinary past 12 months.

It has seen him go from mliking cows on the family farm to making his NRL debut with the One New Zealand Warriors, selection in the New Zealand Kiwis A squad and now the captain’s job as well.

A standout as his club’s captain in the New South Wales Cup, he finished the season by being named the One New Zealand Warriors’ NSW Cup Player of the Year and also made the NSW Cup Team of the Year.

Going will lead a Kiwis A side which boasts players with solid NRL experience and a host of the country’s most promising prospects.

He has been named at loose forward in a pack which includes Canberra’s former Kiwi hooker Danny Levi and Māori All Stars front rowers Pasami Saulo (Canberra) and Wiremu Greig (Parramatta). Halfback Zach Dockar-Clay (Sydney Roosters) and utility Asu Kepoaa also bank significant experience.

Named in the centres are 2019 Kiwi World Nines representative Bailey Simonsson (Parramatta) and Rocco Berry (One New Zealand Warriors), who has just come off his best NRL season so far; their fathers are both former All Blacks (Paul Simonsson and Marty Berry).

The side is packed with NRL rookies.

Apart from Going, winger and former All Black Sevens player Will Warbrick established himself in his debut season with Melbourne while others to make their maiden appearances this year have been fullback Keano Kini (Gold Coast), winger Ali Leiataua (One New Zealand Warriors), standoff Taine Tuaupiki (One New Zealand Warriors), second rower Jack Howarth (Melbourne) and bench forwards Paul Roache (One New Zealand Warriors) and Jack Chan (Melbourne). Canberra’s Trey Mooney, listed as 18th man, is also a rookie, his debut last year being his sole appearance before had added four games this season.

Second rower Jacob Laban (One New Zealand Warriors) is yet to make his first-grade debut as is giant bench forward Benjamin Te Kura (Brisbane) and 19th man Tanner Stowers-Smith (One New Zealand Warriors).

 

NZ KIWIS A v MATE MA’A TONGA A

EDEN PARK, AUCKLAND

1.30PM, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2023

  

NO. PLAYERS NAME CLUB
1 KEANO KINI Gold Coast
2 WILLIAM WARBRICK Melbourne
3 ROCCO BERRY One New Zealand Warriors
4 BAILEY SIMONSSON Parramatta
5 ALI LEIATAUA One New Zealand Warriors
6 TAINE TUAUPIKI One New Zealand Warriors
7 ZACH DOCKAR-CLAY Sydney Roosters
8 PASAMI SAULO Canberra
9 DANNY LEVI Canberra
10 WIREMU GREIG Parramatta
11 JACK HOWARTH Melbourne
12 JACOB LABAN One New Zealand Warriors
13 KALANI GOING One New Zealand Warriors
14 PAUL ROACHE One New Zealand Warriors
15 JOE CHAN Melbourne
16 BENJAMIN TE KURA Brisbane
17 ASU KEPAOA Wests Tigers
18 TREY MOONEY Canberra
19 TANNER STOWERS-SMITH One New Zealand Warriors
COACH NATHAN CAYLESS

The promising batch of players chosen to represent New Zealand Kiwis A in the opening match of Saturday’s triple-header at Eden Park will be eyeing the clash with Tonga A as a stepping stone to full Test honours.  

A 15-strong Kiwis A squad laced with experienced first-graders, emerging fringe NRL players and gun teenagers was named last week; they will be joined by three members of Michael Maguire’s Kiwis group not selected for the Pacific Championships Test against Toa Samoa.  

The selection of four Kiwis A tyros – Wests Tigers’ Asu Kepaoa, and Warriors trio Ali Leiataua, Jacob Laban and Tanner Stowers-Smith – in particular is a ringing endorsement of New Zealand Rugby League’s representative pathways.  

Versatile 23-year-old Kepaoa has already racked up 40 NRL appearances for the Tigers after being lured to Sydney by the Roosters aged just 17 and earning his NSW Cup spurs with North Sydney Bears.  

The Auckland junior represented Akarana Falcons and Counties Manukau Stingrays at age-group level, winning selection in the New Zealand Under-16s Merit Team, the New Zealand Residents 18s and – after linking with the Roosters – the 2019 Junior Kiwis side that featured the likes of Griffin Neame and Jordan Riki.  

Snapped up by the then-Maguire-coached Tigers midway through 2020, Kepaoa played five top-grade games on the wing and crossed for four tries. He had an extended NRL stint in the centres at the back end of 2022, while this year his 19 matches (in which he scored five tries) included starts in the second-row, in the centres and on the wing.  

Leiataua made his NRL debut in June as the Warriors memorably spoiled Canberra centre Jarrod Croker’s 300th game celebrations in a blistering 36-14 victory. The 20-year-old produced a superb display on both sides of the ball opposite the milestone man to announce himself as a star of the future.  

A hamstring injury suffered during that match sidelined Leiataua for more than two months, but he returned in time to play a standout role in the Warriors’ NSW Cup playoffs charge that ended at the preliminary final stage. In 16 NSW Cup appearances in 2023, Leiataua scored 10 tries, made 13 line-breaks, chalked up 77 tackle-breaks and six try assists, and averaged 137 running metres.  

The nephew of Warriors and Kiwis great Ali Lautiiti and the brother of Kiwi Ferns rep Onjeurlina Leiataua, the athletic outside back is a Papatoetoe Panthers junior whose representative achievements include New Zealand Residents 16s selection in 2019 (from Counties Manukau Stingrays) and New Zealand 18s Schools selection (from King’s College). A member of the Warriors’ inaugural SG Ball squad in 2020, Leiataua played for Auckland Blue in the 2021 NZRL Under-20s tournament before outlining his potential for Redcliffe Dolphins in the 2022 QRL Colts competition.  

Randwick Kingfishers (Wellington) product Jacob Laban – born in Moto’otua, Samoa – represented New Zealand Residents 16s in 2020 before finishing his secondary school studies in Auckland at Kelston Boys’ High. He was named College Sport Wellington’s rugby league player of the year in 2019 and earned the same award under the College Sport Auckland banner in 2021.  

Signed by the Warriors, Laban played in Redcliffe Dolphins’ under-18 and under-20 teams in 2022 and began this year in the Warriors’ SG Ball line-up. The 19-year-old second-rower’s rapid progress continued via 17 appearances at NSW Cup level – scoring five tries, and averaging 74 metres and 24 tackles a game – while he received a call-up to the Warriors’ extended bench for the final-round clash with the Dolphins.  

Tanner Stowers-Smith, also 19, capped a stunning 2023 rise with a late call-up to join six Warriors clubmates in the Kiwis A squad.  

The highly impressive middle forward hails from Canterbury Rugby League club Halswell Hornets and attended St Bede’s College, while he was briefly contracted to Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. A staple of Canterbury and South Island Scorpions age-group tournament teams, Stowers-Smith kicked off this season by captaining the Warriors’ SG Ball side.  

Stowers-Smith eventually made 13 NSW Cup appearances – including all three of the Warriors’ finals matches – and made a mighty impression in his five starts at prop or lock and eight interchange outings.  

An industrious worker on attack and defence with a dash of X-factor, Stowers-Smith comes from esteemed rugby league stock. His great-grandfather, Pat Smith, is a Canterbury legend and has the rare distinction of captaining the Kiwis in all 36 matches (including 10 Tests) he played for his country from 1947-49. CRL’s premier clubs vie for the Pat Smith Challenge Trophy on grand final day.  

New Zealand Kiwis A’s showdown with Tonga A kicks off at Eden Park at 1.30pm on Saturday, October 21. 

October 18, 2023

Four debutants have been named for the New Zealand Kiwis’ opening Pacific Championships match against Toa Samoa at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday (6.00pm kick-off).

Auckland-born Canberra centre Matthew Timoko is the only newcomer in the backline while Christchurch-born former Toa Samoa international Fa’amanu Brown (Newcastle) is set for his Kiwi debut at hooker.

The other two newcomers are West Coaster Griffin Neame (North Queensland) and Gisborne-born Leo Thompson (Newcastle) on the interchange.

Head coach Michael Maguire’s first selection of the year features 12 players who lined up for the Kiwis in their last international, the 14-16 loss to the Kangaroos in the Rugby League World Cup semifinal in Leeds on November 12 last year.

Winger Jamayne Isaako is recalled to the New Zealand team after last playing in the 2-0 series win against the touring Great Britain side in 2019.

“The core of the side is built around players who have shown the passion they have for the Kiwi jersey in the past,” said Maguire.

“Joining them are four players who are about to represent their country at this level for the first time. That’s hugely exciting for them and their families as it is for our whole group.”

The well-travelled Brown (28) provides significant international experience having represented Samoa since 2016 including at last year’s Rugby League World Cup in England.

Greymouth-raised Neame (22), who has made 43 NRL appearances for the Cowboys since 2021, was a non-playing member of the Kiwis’ squad for their mid-season Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga in Auckland last year.

The 23-year-old Thompson started the season by representing the Māori All Stars side against the Indigenous All Stars in Rotorua in February before making 25 appearances for the Knights to boost his NRL career tally to 41 since his debut last year.

Timoko (23) has made 62 appearances for the Raiders in the past four years, playing all 25 of their matches in 2023 when he finished with 11 tries, 118 tackle breaks and averaged 158 metres a game.

 

 

NZ KIWIS v TOA SAMOA

EDEN PARK, AUCKLAND

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2023

 

NO. PLAYERS NAME HERITAGE NUMBER
1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD #820
2 RONALDO MULITALO #824
3 MATTHEW TIMOKO Debutant
4 JOSEPH MANU #815
5 JAMAYNE ISAAKO #808
6 DYLAN BROWN #826
7 JAHROME HUGHES #819
8 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (C) #801
9 FA’AMANU BROWN Debutant
10 MOSES LEOTA #827
11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I #817
12 BRITON NIKORA #818
13 JOSEPH TAPINE #800
14 KIERAN FORAN #757
15 NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA #804
16 GRIFFIN NEAME Debutant
17 LEO THOMPSON Debutant
18 NAUFAHU WHYTE Debutant
19 WIREMU GREIG Debutant
20 DANNY LEVI #806
21 KEANO KINI Debutant

 

 

 

17 October 2023

Debuting for the Kiwi Ferns on home soil is a pinch-me moment for the newest stars of the game named in this week’s line-up.

A new-look team has been named to take on Mate Ma’a Tonga Women in Saturday’s triple header at Eden Park as part of the Pacific Championships.

Taranaki’s Tiana Davison is among the new faces named in the team.

“It’s very surreal and to do it at home in front of family and friends is even more surreal. I think there will be a few tears shed,” she says.

Tiana, who made the switch from rugby union to league in 2022, and helped the Newcastle Knights win the grand final of the 2023 NRLW grand final, once had her sights set on making the Black Ferns.

This Saturday she will don the black and white jersey in front of friends and family, who will travel from her small hometown of Waitara to watch her take the field for the first time as a Kiwi Fern.

“Following my time with the Knights this year, I knew if I worked hard and kept my head down my time would come and thankfully for me it did come,” says the 22 year-old.

Tiana says her goal is to show the next generation in her hometown that there is a pathway into elite sport if you put your mind to it.

Making her first appearance in the Pacific Championships alongside Tiana is Abigail Roache, also of the Newcastle Knights.

“My family all managed to come to the NRLW grand final, so it’s going to be really special to play in front of them at home. I’m hoping my grandparents will make it,” says Abigail.

Off the back of a narrow 16-10 loss to the Australian Jillaroos on Saturday in Townsville, head coach Ricky Henry has made some changes to the previous line-up.

“It’s been a really tough selection process where we are leaving out some top players but it shows our depth as we build towards the 2026 World Cup,” says Ricky.

Hot off the back of an NRLW season with the Canberra Raiders also making her debut is Cheyelle Robins-Reti. Having been cleared to play, following an eye injury late in the NRLW season, Cheyelle will be stepping on to the wing.

Brisbane Broncos centre Mele Hufanga caught the attention of many with her try against the Jillaroos in the Kiwi Ferns’ first match of the Pacific Championships. Leading from the front, Mele says she is so proud of how far the debutants have come in the space of a short time.

“These young guns are really talented and they really showed up on Saturday against the Jillaroos.”

Asked what she’s expecting this weekend, Mele says she expects the Tongan players to come for her.

“I’m just focusing on doing better and being better,” she says.

Mate Ma’a Tonga Women v Kiwi Ferns kick-off Saturday 21 October 3.45pm (NZT).

2023 Kiwi Ferns Pacific Championship Team List: 

1. Shanice Parker Newcastle Knights
2. Cheyelle Robins-Reti Canberra Raiders
3. Mele Hufanga Brisbane Broncos
4. Abigail Roache Newcastle Knights
5. Leianne Tufuga Wests Tigers
6. Tyla Nathan-Wong St George Illawarra Dragons
7. Raecene McGregor St George Illawarra Dragons
8. Mya Hill-Moana Sydney Roosters
9. Brooke Anderson Cronulla Sharks
10. Angelina Teakaraanga-Katoa St George Illawarra Dragons
11. Otesa Pule Sydney Roosters
12. Annessa Biddle Cronulla Sharks
13. Georgia Hale Gold Coast Titans
Interchange
14. Capri Paekau Parramatta Eels
15. Najvada George Wests Tigers
16. Amelia Pasikala Sydney Roosters
17. Tiana Davison Newcastle Knights
18. Jasmine Fogavini Brisbane Broncos

 October 15, 2023

Penrith’s three-times NRL premiership-winning prop James Fisher-Harris has been named to lead the New Zealand Kiwis in their Pacific Championships campaign.

The 27-year-old Northlander’s captaincy appointment was announced last night as the Kiwis and the New Zealand Kiwis A squads assembled in Auckland ahead of the Labour Weekend triple-header at Eden Park next Saturday.

The Kiwis take on Toa Samoa while the New Zealand A side will face Mate Ma’a Tonga A on a day when the Kiwis Ferns meet Mate Ma’a Tonga.

Fisher-Harris takes over the captaincy from veteran Kiwi Jesse Bromwich who has called time on his international career.

The 37 players selected for the two New Zealand teams gathered with staff and an array of Kiwi greats for last night’s announcement.

Ruben Wiki, Tawera Nikau, Stacey Jones, Stephen Kearney, Adam Blair and Nathan Cayless all spoke passionately about what the Kiwi jersey meant to them.

“It’s such a privilege and honour to be named to lead my country,” said Fisher-Harris.

“I’m proud to represent my family and the people from where I’m from (in Northland). It’ll be a special moment leading my teammates out against Toa Samoa at Eden Park.”

It won’t be Fisher-Harris’ first experience leading the Kiwis having filled the role for Bromwich in last year’s Rugby League World Cup clash against Jamaica in Hull.

“James has grown into a wonderful leader during my time with the Kiwis,” said Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.

“He was a natural choice to become captain for this campaign. He’s so respected by all our players and staff alike, very much a leader whose actions do the talking.”

Fisher-Harris leads a Kiwi squad which includes 12 players who lined up in the 14-16 semi-final loss to the Kangaroos at the Rugby League World Cup last November.

 

JAMES FISHER-HARRIS

(Penrith Panthers)

Born: January 5, 1996

Birthplace: Rawene, NZ

Position: Second Row/Prop/Loose Forward

Height: 187cm

Weight: 103kg

Junior Club: Marist Brothers (Whangarei)

Other NRL Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 801

Kiwi Test Debut: v Scotland, Workington, 2016

Tests: 12 for Kiwis (2016-2019)

Test Points: 4 (1 try)

NRL Games: 180 (2016-2023)

NRL Points: 48 (12 tries)

Auckland, New Zealand, October 10, 2023

 

Teenaged prop Tanner Stowers-Smith has added another chapter to his remarkable rugby league year after being called into the New Zealand Kiwis A squad for the Labour Weekend Triple-header encounter with Toa Samoa at Eden Park.

The Christchurch born and raised 19-year-old will go into camp in Auckland on Sunday alongside the rest of the A squad as well as the New Zealand Kiwis who are preparing to face Toa Samoa in their Pacific Championships international on October 21.

Stowers-Smith becomes the seventh One New Zealand Warriors player in the line-up joining clubmates Rocco Berry, Taine Tuaupiki, Ali Leiataua, Kalani Going, Paul Roache and Jacob Laban while Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will also be in camp with the Kiwis’ Test squad. He’s one of three teenagers in the A squad, the others being Laban (19) and Brisbane’s Benjamin Te Kura (18).

The call-up caps an extraordinary season for the Halswell Hornets and St Bede’s College product.

The great grandson of legendary former Kiwi captain Pat Smith, Stowers-Smith excelled in both rugby league and rugby union as a schoolboy but opted for rugby league after finishing his schooling last year.

Signing a two-year deal with the Warriors, he started the 2023 season captaining the club’s under-19 side in the New South Wales Rugby League’s SG Ball Cup competition.

He appeared in all nine of the team’s games before being promoted to the New South Wales Cup side once the SG Ball season was over.

Playing alongside and against experienced campaigners, Stowers-Smith made his NSW Cup debut against the Sydney Roosters on April 30 and ended the season with 13 appearances including six starts.

 

NZ KIWIS A SQUAD 

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS A v  TONGA A
NAME CLUB
ROCCO BERRY One New Zealand Warriors
JOE CHAN Melbourne Storm
ZACH DOCKAR-CLAY Sydney Roosters
KALANI GOING One New Zealand Warriors
JACK HOWARTH Melbourne Storm
ASU KEPAOA Wests Tigers
JACOB LABAN One New Zealand Warriors
ALI LEIATAUA One New Zealand Warriors
TREY MOONEY Canberra Raiders
PAUL ROACHE One New Zealand Warriors
PASAMI SAULO Canberra Raiders
BAILEY SIMONSSON Parramatta Eels
TANNER STOWERS-SMITH One New Zealand Warriors
TAINE TUAUPIKI One New Zealand Warriors
BENJAMIN TE KURA Brisbane Broncos
WILLIAM WARBRICK Melbourne Storm

 

10 October 2023Kiwi Ferns head coach Ricky Henry has made his selection for the Kiwi Ferns’ first game in the Pacific Championships on Saturday.

In the Kiwi Ferns’ first appearance against the Jillaroos since their World Cup final loss to the Australians last year, nine debutantes will be looking to rewrite history in Townsville.

Head coach Ricky Henry says his selection reflects the need for balance across the team.

“We have some really exciting outside backs in the line-up, which also means some hard decisions were made.”

Ricky says being forced to make tough decisions ahead of game day can only be a good thing though, with a talented team of individuals to select from.

Among the team of debutantes kickstarting the Pacific Championships is NRLW Rookie of the Year and winger Annessa Biddle and her Sharks teammate and hooker, Brooke Anderson.

2016 was the last time the Kiwi Ferns beat the Australians. “We won’t be sitting back and taking it lightly,” says Ricky.“2026 is where we are looking to but we are here to win these games as we develop this new team.” Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns kick-off Saturday 14 October 8pm (NZT).2023 Kiwi Ferns Pacific Championship Team List: 

1. Apii Nicholls Canberra Raiders
2. Annessa Biddle Cronulla Sharks
3. Shanice Parker Newcastle Knights
4. Mele Hufanga Brisbane Broncos
5. Leianne Tufuga Wests Tigers
6. Ashleigh Quinlan Canberra Raiders
7. Raecene McGregor St George Illawarra Dragons
8. Mya Hill-Moana Sydney Roosters
9. Brooke Anderson Cronulla Sharks
10. Angelina Teakaraanga-Katoa St George Illawarra Dragons
11. Otesa Pule Sydney Roosters
12. Laishon Albert-Jones Newcastle Knights
13. Georgia Hale Gold Coast Titans
Interchange
14. Tyla Nathan-Wong St George Illawarra Dragons
15. Najvada George Wests Tigers
16. Jasmine Fogavini Brisbane Broncos
17. Amelia Pasikala Sydney Roosters
18. Abigail Roache New Castle Knights

As seen on 1news.co.nz

Even Tyla Nathan-Wong admits she’s still coming to grips wearing the Kiwi Ferns jersey.

But it could soon become a regular occurrence, named in the New Zealand women’s squad for the upcoming Pacific Championship against Australia and Tonga.

“Obviously I’ve always been a big supporter and follower of Rugby League in general especially NRL and NRLW since it started from a far,” says Nathan-Wong.

“But never did I think I’d be pulling on the Kiwi Ferns jersey obviously you think far out how cool would that be one day if I ever could.”

“To think in my first year of ever playing league in the NRLW and be able to potentially pull on this jersey for what’s my fifth sport at an international level I’ll be pulling the black jersey on for.”

And it’s that wealth of experience that’s made her adjustment to the NRLW so easy.

While her side St George Illawarra Dragons haven’t fared as well as she would have hoped, Nathan-Wong still managed to form a strong halves partnership with fellow Kiwi Fern Raecene McGregor.

“She might be new to rugby league but as a professional athlete Tyla’s done it all really so she’ll call on a lot of experience to help her play well against the Australians and Tongans,” says Kiwi Ferns coach Ricky Henry.

The decision to switch codes, a “now or never” moment for the sevens Olympic gold medallist.

“In general playing contact sport your window is limited your body can only handle so much.

“But then being female too there’s that time where you do want to settle down and start a family and unfortunately out of the two you’re the one who becomes pregnant and has to hold the baby which is incredible in of itself.

“That’s why I knew, I just felt I was at a point in my career where I achieved everything I wanted to,” says Nathan-Wong.

Whānau was ultimately the determining factor for the 29-year-old especially considering her grandfather, David Wong, was the first Chinese-New Zealander to play for Auckland’s provincial rugby league team.

“He’s that proud person who will tell the supermarket check out person that I’m his granddaughter and to watch me on TV.”

No doubt grandad or gung gung as he’s affectionately called in the family, will be watching next weekend when the Kiwi Ferns kick the Pacific Champions off against the Jillaroos in Townsville.

10 October 2023

A dual captaincy will see veterans Georgia Hale and Raecene McGregor step up to lead the Kiwi Ferns in the 2023 Pacific Championship.The announcement of the co-captains comes ahead of the Kiwi Ferns’ first game against the Jillaroos in Townsville on Saturday 14 October.Kiwi Ferns head coach Ricky Henry says the experienced duo are the ‘whole package’, who can lead the team to success in the Pacific Championships and beyond to the 2025 Women’s Rugby League World Cup (to be held in 2026).“They’ve both got experience that can’t be matched.”

Ricky says Georgia embodies where the game is going, as a wāhine who has cemented herself as a respected leader, after moving from ‘local footy’ to the NRLW.

“People want to play with her or play for her, which says a lot and that’s coaches and staff too. We saw that in the Titans,” says Ricky.Georgia, 28 led the Gold Coast Titans to second place in the NRLW and has become a strong figure-head in the game for both her versatility, playing as a lock and half, alongside her heart-felt leadership style.

“Georgia has been one of the best players in the NRLW through hardwork and persistence and that’s where the respect comes from first. At the same time she really cares about those around her.”

It’s a proud moment for Georgia, being able to don the black and white jersey once more and continue the legacy of the Kiwi Ferns.

“The most important thing for me to do on this tour is grow the connection of our team, so we can bring our culture to life, which is what we pride ourselves on. It’s our superpower, our inner strength.”

For Georgia, empowering others through their youth, wisdom or own personal culture will also be at the forefront for her on this campaign, with 12 debutantes.

Kiwi Fern half Raecene McGregor, 25 is filled with gratitude at the naming. It comes off the back of a strong NRLW season with the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Raecene, the 2022 winner of the Dally M Medal NRLW, says holding the role of captain is something she has always wanted to do.“Over the last two years I’ve felt ready to take on this position, knowing that I’ve come into myself a little more and gained experience through age too.”

The five-eight says she attributes her leadership qualities to her Mum, who instilled in her the notion to be respectful and kind to other people.

“If you want to be treated a certain way, treat them that way,” she says.

Rick says while Georgia has witnessed the evolution of the game since her test debut in 2015, Raecene has helped build that.“Raecene has got the kicks, the lovely pass, the game IQ and her leadership on the field is what the team trust. She’s been a trail-blaser of the women’s game,” says Ricky.

“Players look to her to come up with the big play or the right play on the field and she expects the best of people on and off the field.”Shanice Parker and Mya Hill-Moana have also been selected to support Hale and McGregor as part of a wider leadership team.

Ricky says he will be looking to the co-captains and leadership team to help deliver key messaging and simplify technical language. “If they can help us lead better, then we can be more effective as a team.”

Auckland, New Zealand, October 9, 2023

Eight NRL rookies and two teenagers yet to play a first-grade match feature in the New Zealand Kiwis A squad to face Tonga A in the Labour Weekend triple-header at Eden Park on Saturday, October 21.

With their eye firmly focused on the future, the national selectors have also included a mix of more established NRL players in a group of 15 players named today.

They will go into camp with the 21-man New Zealand Kiwis squad announced last week for the Pacific Championships encounter with beaten 2022 Rugby League World Cup finalists Toa Samoa.

Three of the 21 players in the Kiwi squad will be added to the New Zealand A line-up next week.

The eight NRL rookies named are Storm second rower Joe Chan (21), Warriors back rower Kalani Going (26), Storm back rower Jack Howarth (20), Warriors centre Ali Leiataua (20), Raiders middle forward Trey Mooney (21), Warriors hooker Paul Roache (24), Warriors fullback Taine Tuaupiki (24) and Storm winger William Warbrick (25).

Yet to play in the NRL are Warriors second rower Jacob Laban (19) and Broncos front rower Benjamin Te Kura (18). Both filled the 18th man role for their NRL sides in the final round of the 2023 regular season but didn’t make it onto the field.

The squad’s most experienced player is Eels centre Bailey Simonsson (25), who played the first of his 85 NRL matches for Canberra in 2019, the year he represented the Kiwis at the World Nines in Sydney.

Prop Pasami Saulo (25) has made 49 appearances for the Knights and the Raiders while centre Asu Kepaoa (23) has played 40 times for Wests Tigers and fellow centre Rocco Berry (22) has 31 appearances for the Warriors.

Also included is Roosters and Māori All Stars utility Zach Dockar-Clay (28), who played 14 times in his NRL debut season for the Bulldogs in 2022.

“It’s really exciting for New Zealand Rugby League being able to bring so many players together at the same time,” said New Zealand Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire.

“The players brought into the New Zealand A squad will all have the opportunity to be in camp with the Kiwis, to train alongside them and to show their potential as future Kiwi internationals.

“It’s really important for us to have an opportunity like this, not just for players striving to become Kiwis but also for coaches.”

Coached by former Kiwi captain Nathan Cayless, the New Zealand Kiwis A team faces Tonga A in the first game of the Labour Weekend triple-header (1.30pm kick-off) at Eden Park followed by the Kiwis Ferns taking on Tonga Women’s (3.45pm kick-off) and the New Zealand Kiwis against in their Pacific Championships encounter (6.00pm).

 

New Zealand Kiwis A Squad v Tonga A

NAME

CLUB

ROCCO BERRY

One NZ Warriors

JOE CHAN

Melbourne Storm

ZACH DOCKAR-CLAY

Sydney Roosters

KALANI GOING

One NZ Warriors

JACK HOWARTH

Melbourne Storm

ASU KEPAOA

Wests Tigers

JACOB LABAN

One NZ Warriors

ALI LEIATAUA

One NZ Warriors

TREY MOONEY

Canberra Raiders

PAUL ROACHE

One NZ Warriors

PASAMI SAULO

Canberra Raiders

BAILEY SIMONSSON

Parramatta Eels

TAINE TUAUPIKI

One NZ Warriors

BENJAMIN TE KURA

Brisbane Broncos

WILLIAM WARBRICK

Melbourne Storm

Auckland, New Zealand, October 4, 2023

Seven players are in line to make their New Zealand debuts after being named in the Kiwis’ 21-man squad for the inaugural Pacific Championships. 

The potential debutants are led by North Queensland prop Griffin Neame, a non-playing member of the New Zealand squad for last year’s mid-season Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga. 

Also named is Christchurch-born Newcastle utility Fa’amanu Brown, who comes into the New Zealand squad for the first time after representing Toa Samoa at last year’s Rugby League World Cup. 

Joining Neame and Brown are Parramatta and Māori All Stars front rower Wiremu Greig, 19-year-old Gold Coast NRL rookie fullback Keano Kini, Newcastle and Māori All Stars prop Leo Thompson, Canberra centre Matthew Timoko and Sydney Roosters middle forward Naufahu Whyte. 

Two former Kiwis who have also played for Samoa have been recalled. 

Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako finished the 2023 NRL season as both the leading try scorer and the top points scorer. He last represented the Kiwis against Great Britain in 2019 as well as representing Samoa earlier that season. 

And experienced Canberra and Māori All Stars hooker Danny Levi returns after last playing for New Zealand at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. He has represented Toa Samoa since 2019 including at the World Cup last year.  

The remaining 12 players named were all in the Kiwis’ line-up for their World Cup semi-final against the Kangaroos when they were denied 16-14 in an epic battle at Elland Road in Leeds. 

Returning from the backline that night are 2022 Golden Boot winner Joseph Manu, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dylan Brown and Jahrome Hughes. 

Penrith’s premiership-winning props James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota are back along with Isaiah Papali’i, Briton Nikora, Joseph Tapine, Kieran Foran and Nelson Asofa Solomona. 

“It’s always a real thrill being able to bring new players into the Kiwi camp,” said New Zealand Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire.  

“It’s a special place and these men have earned the opportunity. They’ll benefit so much from being around players who have done the jersey proud. 

“This series is exciting for the game in New Zealand and also a chance for us to start our journey to the next World Cup in 2025.” 

The Kiwis begin their campaign against Toa Samoa in a Labour Weekend triple header at Eden Park on Saturday, October 21 before facing the Kangaroos in Melbourne a week later. 

The series final will be played in Hamilton on November 4.  

  

2023 Kiwis Pacific Championship Squad:  

NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA   Melbourne Storm  
DYLAN BROWN   Parramatta Eels  
*FA’AMANU BROWN   Newcastle Knights  
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS   Penrith Panthers  
KIERAN FORAN   Gold Coast Titans  
*WIREMU GREIG   Parramatta Eels  
JAHROME HUGHES   Melbourne Storm  
JAMAYNE ISAAKO   The Dolphins  
*KEANO KINI   Gold Coast Titans  
MOSES LEOTA   Penrith Panthers  
DANNY LEVI   Canberra Raiders  
JOSEPH MANU   Sydney Roosters  
RONALDO MULITALO   Cronulla Sharks  
*GRIFFIN NEAME   North Queensland Cowboys  
CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD   One NZ Warriors  
BRITON NIKORA   Cronulla Sharks  
ISAIAH PAPALI’I   Wests Tigers  
JOSEPH TAPINE   Canberra Raiders  
*LEO THOMPSON   Newcastle Knights  
*MATTHEW TIMOKO   Canberra Raiders  
*NAUFAHU WHYTE   Sydney Roosters  

 

* denotes potential debut

Auckland, New Zealand, October 4, 2023

Kiwi Ferns head coach Ricky Henry has confirmed his squad for the 2023 Pacific Championship, which features 11 potential Kiwi Ferns debutantes. 

Following their World Cup final loss to the Jillaroos last year, Henry calls on a fresh crop of NRLW talent set to stamp their mark on the international scene after impressive 2023 seasons.  

Among the new debutantes is NRLW rookie of the year medallist Annessa Biddle, who took the NRLW by storm, earning two tries, 1366 running metres and 33 tackle breaks. After being voted the Rugby League Players’ Association NRLW Rookie of the Year, Biddle looks to continue her flying form in Black and White colours. 

Joining Biddle in the squad is Sharks teammate and hooker Brooke Anderson. Anderson is no stranger to representative rugby league, having represented the Māori All-Stars and NSW Sky Blues in 2023. 

Olympic gold medallist and dual code star Tyla Nathan-Wong gets her first Kiwi Ferns selection after an impressive debut NRLW season alongside halves partner and Golden Boot winner Raecene McGregor. Dragon’s teammate Angelina Teakaraanga-Katoa also gets her maiden call-up. 

Wests Tigers duo Leianne Tufuga and Najvada George join the squad after they combined for 2163 running metres this season, with Tufuga scoring five tries in nine appearances. 

Newcomers Jasmine Fogavini of the Brisbane Broncos and Amelia Pasikala of the Sydney Roosters help strengthen an already dominant forward pack. While Auckland and Taupō natives, Cheyelle Robins-Reti and Ashleigh Quinlan are named after stand-out seasons for the Canberra Raiders. 

Dally M Centre of the Year Mele Hufanga returns to the Kiwi Ferns after a break-out NRLW season with the Broncos. Veterans Georgia Hale, Apii Nicholls and Mya Hill-Moana also return, while 2023 NRLW champions Shanice Parker, Laishon Albert-Jones and Abigail Roache look to carry on their winning momentum. 

“We’ve listed an impressive group of players who have rightfully earned their spots, and we acknowledge them for their form in the NRLW competition,” Henry said. 

“The depth we have and the new generation of players coming through is exciting. I’m confident our newcomers will flourish alongside our World Cup campaigners and veteran leaders who set an excellent foundation for us last year. 

“The Jillaroos are world-class, and Tonga is no easy feat, but I’m confident in this playing group. I know everyone can’t wait to get out there.” 

 

2023 Kiwi Ferns Pacific Championship Squad:  

Abigail Roache  Newcastle Knights 
Amelia Pasikala*  Sydney Roosters 
Angelina Teakaraanga-Katoa*  St George Illawarra Dragons 
Annessa Biddle*  Cronulla Sharks 
Apii Nicholls  Canberra Raiders 
Ashleigh Quinlan*  Canberra Raiders 
Brooke Anderson*  Cronulla Sharks 
Capri Paekau*  Parramatta Eels 
Cheyelle Robins-Reti*  Canberra Raiders 
Georgia Hale  Gold Coast Titans 
Jasmine Fogavini*  Brisbane Broncos 
Laishon Albert Jones  Newcastle Knights 
Leianne Tufuga*  Wests Tigers 
Mele Hufanga  Brisbane Broncos 
Mya Hill-Moana  Sydney Roosters 
Najvada George*  Wests Tigers 
Otesa Pule  Sydney Roosters 
Raecene McGregor  St George Illawarra Dragons 
Shanice Parker  Newcastle Knights 
Tiana Davison*  Newcastle Knights 
Tyla Nathan-Wong*  St George Illawarra Dragons 

 

* denotes potential debut

As seen on stoppress.co.nz

Following the launch a new Go Media site on the corner of Church and Neilson St in Penrose, Auckland, in time for the sold-out Warriors’ last home game in the finals series, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has named Go Media as its official Outdoor Media Partner.

Greg Peters, CEO of NZRL, says the organisation has been working with Go Media for several years but this move solidifies this long term relationship “where they can help to amplify our sport in general and future test series, starting with the triple header on October 21st at Eden Park”.

“It was great to see a record 28,000 crowd at the weekend walk up passed our advertising.”

Dae Chun, Go Media’s Auckland Sales Manager, says the Warriors performance this season means that “Rugby League is red hot right now, so it’s great to get behind NZRL to help build on that momentum for the Pacific Championship”.

“We created Up the Wahs packs for last weekend, which targeted all the sites we have going to and from the stadium, which sold out, and we will continue to create packs around every event at Go Media Stadium with our new site front and centre.”

Read the full article on stoppress.co.nz

As seen on nzherald

FMG Stadium Waikato will host the Pacific Cup grand final on Saturday, November 4, as part of the newly announced Pacific Championships in partnership with New Zealand Rugby League.

The 2023 Pacific Championships is a two-tiered competition with six men’s teams and seven women’s teams taking part in the tournament across two pools.

“I firmly believe the Pacific Cup will be the biggest international rugby league event on home soil since the 2017 World Cup,” said NZRL chief executive Greg Peters.

Hamilton City Council’s General Manager of Venues, Tourism and Major Events, Sean Murray, said: “We’re working hard to deliver an exceptional Pacific Championship final at FMG Stadium Waikato. The team looks forward to passionate fans and the exposure this game will bring to our city and region.”

“How special to bring the best players in the world back home to play in front of their communities,” Peters said.

“We’re excited to work with these Pacific teams to bring our rugby league heroes back home and unite fans across New Zealand and the Pacific.

“No other code can produce such a celebration of culture and passion; the atmosphere will be unmissable.”

Full schedule below:

Week One – October 14-15

  • Australia v Samoa (men) and Australia v New Zealand (women) at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
  • PNG v Cook Islands (men) and Samoa v Fiji (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Two – October 21-22

  • New Zealand v Samoa (men), New Zealand v Tonga (women), and NZ Kiwis A v Tonga A (men) at Eden Park, Auckland
  • Fiji v Cook Islands (men) and PNG v Cook Islands (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Three – October 28-29

  • Australia v New Zealand (men and women) at AAMI Park, Melbourne
  • PNG v Fiji (men) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Four – November 4-5

  • The final of the men’s Pacific Cup tournament on November 4 at FMG Stadium Waikato, New Zealand
  • The final of the men’s Pacific Bowl tournament on November 5 at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Tickets for the Pacific Championships grand final are on sale to the public now from Ticketek.

As seen on nrl.com

Kiwi Ferns star Raecene McGregor believes the end-of-season Pacific Championships may help convince her Dragons halves partner Tyla Nathan-Wong and other rugby union converts to stick with league.

Nathan-Wong, who was a member of New Zealand’s gold medal winning rugby sevens team at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, is among a host of NRLW newcomers set to bolster the depth of the Kiwi Ferns.

16 August 2023

Tickets for the rugby league triple-header at Eden Park are on sale now | https://bit.ly/BuyRLTickets

Tamaki Makaurau Auckland’s Eden Park will host a blockbuster rugby league triple-header between New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga on Saturday, October 21st, as part of the newly announced Pacific Championships in partnership with the NRL.

The Kiwis will face Samoa, igniting a new Pacific rivalry hot off last year’s World Cup momentum; the Kiwi Ferns will line up against Tonga, and an NZ Kiwi A team will assemble for the first time in 17 years.

Thanks to the current depth of the New Zealand talent pool, the NZ Kiwis A team will consist of current and future Kiwi-committed NRL stars who will take on a Tonga A team as the opening match of the rugby league triple-header.

“How special to bring the best players in the world back home to play in front of their communities. Without the support from Tātaki Auckland Unlimited this series wouldn’t have happened,” says NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

“We’re excited to work with Samoa to bring their rugby league heroes back home and unite fans across New Zealand and the Pacific.

“No other code can produce such a celebration of culture and passion; the atmosphere will be unmissable.”

The 2023 Pacific Championships is a two-tiered competition with six men’s teams and seven women’s teams taking part in the tournament across two pools.

Waikato’s FMG Stadium will host the Pacific Cup grand final on November 4th.

“I firmly believe the Tamaki Makaurau Auckland triple-header and Waikato final will be the biggest international rugby league events on home soil since the 2017 World Cup,” adds NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

Hamilton City Council’s General Manager of Venues, Tourism and Major Events, Sean Murray says, “We’re working hard to deliver an exceptional Pacific Championship Final at FMG Stadium Waikato. The team looks forward to passionate fans and the exposure this game will bring to our city and region.”

 

Full schedule below:

Week One – October 14-15

  • Australia v Samoa (men) and Australia v New Zealand (women) at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
  • PNG v Cook Islands (men) and Samoa v Fiji (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Two – October 21-22

  • New Zealand v Samoa (men), New Zealand v Tonga (women), and NZ Kiwis A v Tonga A (men) at Eden Park, Auckland
  • Fiji v Cook Islands (men) and PNG v Cook Islands (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Three – October 28-29

  • Australia v New Zealand (men and women) at AAMI Park, Melbourne
  • PNG v Fiji (men) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Four – November 4-5

  • The Final of the men’s Pacific Cup tournament on November 4 in Hamilton, New Zealand
  • The Final of the men’s Pacific Bowl tournament on November 5 at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

The Pacific Championships will be staged in 2023 and 2024, after the NRL and NRLW Premiership seasons, and will include men’s and women’s teams from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Cook Islands.

Tickets for the rugby league triple-header at Eden Park are on sale now | https://bit.ly/BuyRLTickets