The Kiwi Ferns have been named to take on the Jillaroos in their Rugby League World Cup final against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on Saturday (1.15pm kick-off local time; 2.15am NZT).
Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly makes her return as starting winger outside of centre Mele Hufanga who received Player of the Match at Monday night’s 20-6 semi-final win over England.
RLWC Golden Boot winner Raecene McGregor will start in the halves alongside Abigail Roache, while Charlotte Scanlan and Katelyn Vahaakolo have been named at 18th and 19th Woman.
The rest of head coach Ricky Henry’s side remains unchanged from the Kiwi Ferns’ match last-up.
Shanice Parker has also been ruled out of the side after picking up a minor knee injury following the Kiwi Ferns’ second victory (34-4) versus the Cook Islands.
Parker made her Kiwi Ferns debut in centre for the opening pool match against France where she executed a stunning 100-metre solo try.
Kiwi Ferns World Cup team v Australia by squad number and position:
1 | Apii Nicholls (Fullback)
3 | Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly (Wing)
24 | Mele Hufanga (Centre)
4 | Page McGregor (Centre)
5 | Madison Bartlett (Wing)
15 | Abigail Roache (Five Eighth)
7 | Raecene McGregor (Halfback)
23 | Brianna Clark (Prop)
9 | Krystal Rota (Hooker)
10 | Annetta Claudia-Nu’uausala (Prop)
11 | Roxette Murdoch-Masila (Second Row)
12 | Amber-Paris Hall (Second Row)
13 | Georgia Hale (Loose Forward)
14 | Nita Maynard (Interchange)
8 | Mya Hill-Moana (Interchange)
18 | Otesa Pule (Interchange)
17 | Christyl Stowers (Interchange)
16 | Charlotte Scanlan (18th Woman)
2 | Katelyn Vahaakolo (19th Woman)
As seen on NRL.com
The Kiwi Ferns have marched into their sixth-consecutive World Cup Final with a 20-6 win over tournament hosts England in York on Tuesday (AEDT).
After leading by just two points at half-time, Apii Nicholls and Mele Hufanga led a second-half charge to ensure the Kiwi Ferns continued their remarkable run of playing in every World Cup final since the tournament’s inception in 2000.
After a Nicholls knock-on handed the hosts early field position, the Lionesses opened their account in the fourth minute when fullback Francesca Goldthorp crossed out wide and Tara-Jane Stanley converted for a 6-0 lead.
New Zealand hit back through centre Hufanga in the 15th minute after a strong run by Broncos prop Amber Hall who evaded several defenders and sent a well-timed pass back inside to Hufanga.
Come the 28th minute and New Zealand had their second when NRLW Dally M Medal winner Raecene McGregor exploded out from dummy half five metres out, stepped off her left foot and crashed over the goal line.
After another unsuccessful conversion, Ricky Henry’s side headed to the break with just a two-point lead.
Six minutes into the second half saw a great moment for New Zealand when Hufanga and Nicholls charged downfield to find Otesa Pule on the left who crossed the stripe for her first World Cup try.
Come the 51st minute and courtesy of another barnstorming break from Hufanga down the right edge, the Ferns swung the ball back infield to find Brianna Clark who found the gap to score untouched next to the uprights. Nicholls converted to make it 20-6.
Otesa Pule’s first World Cup try in the 46th minute was beautifully constructed by the Ferns, igniting their second-half charge. Halfback Raecene McGregor found Mele Hufanga on her right side who charged the ball downfield before putting fullback Apii Nicholls into a hole. The explosive Titan raced the ball back through the middle before being brought to ground but got the Hail Mary offload away and Roxy Murdoch-Masila was there to push it onto Otesa Pule to score.
“The build-up to today was just all about working hard for ourselves. It was just our mentality and attitude that changed for us (second half), we knew that it was do-or-die and we weren’t coming home. I think we’ve played every game of this tournament like it was our final.” – Player-of-the-match Mele Hufanga
“They’ve worked so hard for this moment and we’ve been confident in our camp all along. We didn’t play our best footy tonight but I’m so proud of them. But being honest we’ve got to be better with our completions and errors, so we’ll try take it to Australia and get real physical with them as well.” – Ferns coach Ricky Henry
Cameron Murray’s second-half try carried Australia into the World Cup final at New Zealand’s expense as the Kangaroos edged a breathless encounter 16-14 at Elland Road.
The Kiwis led 14-10 at the break through scores from Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown but Murray found a gap on 55 minutes to settle a contest which lived up to the pre-match hype and swung both ways throughout.
New Zealand saw two Peta Hiku tries disallowed in the second half as Australia, for whom Josh Addo-Carr and Valentine Holmes also crossed, continued their record of not missing a men’s World Cup final since 1954.
Much of the pre-match discussion had centred around the full-back battle between James Tedesco and Joey Manu and it was the latter who had the first key involvement as the Kiwis drew first blood on 11 minutes.
Manu rose highest to claim Brown’s perfectly judged kick and his offload gave Hughes a simple finish for a score converted by Jordan Rapana.
Rapana was soon in defensive action, delivering a heavy hit on Addo-Carr, but it left no lasting impact on the flying wing as Australia quickly levelled matters.
Ben Hunt sent the ball skywards from 40 metres out and it landed on a sixpence for the jet-heeled Addo-Carr to dot down on the left for his 12th try of the tournament, equalling teammate Holmes’ 2017 record for the most tries scored in a men’s World Cup.
Rapana’s boot edged New Zealand 8-6 in front, Cam Munster penalised for offside when Tedesco spilled Hughes’ grubber kick into him, but the Kangaroos again bounced back quickly.
This time it was Holmes who applied the finishing touch following an incisive run by Jack Wighton, who sold Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad a dummy and offloaded to the Cowboys wing for a try which survived a check by the video referee.
Cleary’s conversion attempt slid across the face of the posts and a pulsating first half had time for one more twist as the Kiwis struck again.
Ronaldo Mulitalo was released down the left and once he had evaded Wighton’s despairing dive, he had time to assess his options and release inside for Brown to run in unopposed.
Rapana’s kick gave Michael Maguire’s side a 14-10 lead at the interval and they thought they had extended it further five minutes into the second half when Hiku crossed following fine work by Moses Leota.
But the try was disallowed for offside, Rapana having been in front of the kicker when boot was put to ball, and the Kangaroos swiftly made the most of their reprieve when awarded a penalty five metres out.
A simple two points were on offer but Australia had bigger plans and when the ball was popped to Murray, he caught the Kiwi defence napping to power under the posts.
There was no let-up in the physicality as the game approached the hour mark, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui crunching into Manu to force a knock-on before Cazoo Player of the Match Liam Martin’s brutal hit on Nelson Asofa-Solomona led to a spot of handbags as the on-field temperate continued to rise.
Harry Grant’s dart was held up by last-ditch Kiwi defending as the Kangaroos interchange looked to inject a spark but New Zealand, who had spent much of the second half defending, soon upped the ante in search of a dramatic late winner.
They were inches away from finding one courtesy of Hiku, who was again denied after he ran out of space, grounding Hughes’ grubber on the touchline.
That proved the last of the Kiwis’ chances as Australia held on to seal a ninth win in their last 10 World Cup matches against New Zealand and book their place at Old Trafford next weekend.
The Kiwi Ferns have been confirmed for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup semi-final against tournament hosts England on Monday, 7.30pm local time at LNER Community Stadium in York.
Head coach Ricky Henry made a few changes to his side, bringing back winger Madison Bartlett to start and Charlotte Scanlan who returns on the interchange alongside Nita Maynard, Mya Hill-Moana and Otesa Pule.
Christyl Stowers is 18th woman and Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly is 19th, while the rest of his line-up remains unchanged from their match against Australia.
Tune in LIVE on Spark Sport at 7.30am NZT (November 15) and delayed on Three at 9.30am.
Kiwi Ferns v England: By touring number and position
2 | Katelyn Vahaakolo (Wing)
15 | Abigail Roache (Five eighth)
10 | Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala (Prop)
18 |Otesa Pule (Interchange)
16 | Charlotte Scanlan (Interchange)
17 | Christyl Stowers (18th Woman)
3 | Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly (19th Woman)
As seen on NRL.com
The Australian Jillaroos overcame a determined New Zealand Ferns, to win 10-8 in a thrilling Round 3 contest between two powerhouses of rugby league.
The defending champions’ experience was tested on Friday morning (AEDT) in York but Brad Donald’s side hung on for the 80 minutes to finish top of their Pool ahead of next week’s semi-finals.
The Jillaroos conceded their first points of the tournament to their Trans-Tasman rivals, with prop Amber Hall and halfback Raecene McGregor leading a brave Ferns outfit to stake their claim as World Cup Final contenders.
It was the Jillaroos who kicked off proceedings, after a closely contested opening, when a Simaima Taufa offload put five-eighth Tarryn Aiken in close range to weave her way through the Kiwis’ defence and crash over the stripe.
Ali Brigginshaw made no mistake with the boot and a successful conversion saw the favourites lead 6-0 21 minutes into the opening half.
But four minutes later Kiwi halfback Raecene McGregor’s kicking came to the fore when a perfectly weighted grubber was collected by Titans star Apii Nicholls to hand New Zealand their first points of the match.
The Ferns had the perfect opportunity to level the scores before half time but after Brianna Clark hooked the conversion from in front, the Jillaroos led by two points at the break.
After another seesawing start to the second half, New Zealand stole the lead in the 54th minute with centre Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly on the end of a Ferns left side raid.
It all came after an incredible one-on-one steal from rugby union convert Mele Hufanga, who stripped the ball from Sam Bremner and ran 50 metres upfield to hand her Ferns field position. Another missed conversion by Clark left the Kiwis hanging on to just a two-point lead.
But the Jillaroos, trailing for the first time in the tournament, were quick to strike back. Some slick hands saw Brad Donald’s side send the ball down the left side and Julia Robinson crossed the line for her sixth try of the tournament to steal back the two-point lead.
Another try was looking inevitable for the Jillaroos when Shaylee Bent was charging towards the line but Ferns prop Amber Hall produced an incredible try-saving tackle in the 66th minute, crediting New Zealand’s desperation in defence.
However, the Jillaroos held on to their lead until the full-time siren and will head into next week’s semi-final clash against Papua New Guinea undefeated.
York, England, November 11, 2022 – Prop Moses Leota is confirmed on the bench while Isaiah Papali’i and Briton Nikora form a new second row combination for the New Zealand Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup semi-final against the Kangaroos at Elland Road in Leeds today (7.45pm kick-off local time; 8.45am Saturday NZT).
Leota will make just his second appearance of the tournament as he returns on the interchange alongside Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Isaac Liu and Kieran Foran.
After using Asofa-Solomona and Kenny Bromwich in the second row in last week’s quarter-final against Fiji, head coach Michael Maguire has selected the 24-year-olds Papali’i and Nikora in the second row after both were on the interchange against Fiji.
Bromwich is 18th man and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is 19th.
NZ KIWIS v AUSTRALIAN KANGAROOS
Elland Road, Leeds
7.45pm, Friday, November 11 2022
Richmond’s very own Abigail Roache will don the black and white jersey for the first time when the Kiwi Ferns take on Australia this Thursday, 7.30pm local time (8.30am NZT) in York.
Roache, who received the 2022 Cathy Friend Women’s Player of the Year Award (awarded to Auckland’s top female player), will start in the halves alongside this year’s NRLW Dally M winner Raecene McGregor.
Following a solid performance and debut against the Cook Islands last Thursday, Mele Hufanga returns and shifts to centre, while Georgia Hale, Roxette Murdoch-Masila, Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly and Katelyn Vahaakolo all return to the side.
Head coach Ricky Henry also named Brianna Clark at starting prop.
Tune in LIVE on Spark Sport at 7.30am NZT (November 11) and delayed on Three at 9.30am.
Kiwi Ferns team v Australia: By touring number and position
1 | Apii Nicholls (Fullback)
3 | Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly (Wing)
24 | Mele Hufanga (Centre)
4 | Page McGregor (Centre)
2 | Katelyn Vahaakolo (Wing)
15 | Abigail Roache (Five eighth)
7 | Raecene McGregor (Halfback)
23 | Brianna Clark (Prop)
9 | Krystal Rota (Hooker)
10 | Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala (Prop)
11 | Roxette Murdoch-Masila (Second Row)
12 | Amber-Paris Hall (Second Row)
13 | Georgia Hale (Loose Forward)
14 | Nita Maynard (Interchange)
8 | Mya Hill-Moana (Interchange)
18 | Otesa Pule (Interchange)
17 | Christyl Stowers (Interchange)
22 | Karli Hansen (18th Woman)
5 | Madison Bartlett (19th Woman)
The Kiwi Ferns have booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals after beating Cook Islands 34-4 in the second round of group play on Monday morning (AEDT).
New Zealand scored three first-half tries to lead 14-0 at the break, before running in a further four in the second 40 minutes to secure the result, which could have been more impressive but for only three of their tries being converted.
While the performance was far from convincing – particularly when you compare it to Australia’s 74-0 victory over the same side last week – it was enough to ensure the Kiwi Ferns are safely through to the knockout stages ahead of playing the Jillaroos in their final group game.
Halfback Raecene McGregor and debutante Mele Hufanga both impressed for coach Ricky Henry, each scoring two tries, while up front Annetta Nu’uausala was strong, finishing with 142 metres and eight tackle busts.
Cooks Islands fought on bravely after losing co-captain and chief playmaker Kimiora Breayley-Nati to a game-ending head knock two minutes into the game in York.
A magical run from Raecene McGregor, featuring a couple of dummies which bamboozled the would-be defence. This solo effort showed great vision from McGregor, who has continued on from a brilliant NRLW season with the Roosters.
“We got a win tonight which is all we were aiming to do, but we have got a lot of work [to do] with our group. We were pretty clunky, didn’t execute what we wanted to… we will review the video and come back out here and hopefully play well against Australia.” – New Zealand coach Ricky Henry.
“Really proud of our girls’ effort tonight. We just needed to be better with our chase and defence tonight, it just wasn’t up to it. One more game to go, so we are looking forward to France.” – Cook Islands coach Rusty Matua.
New Zealand face the world champion Jillaroos up next, with the winner to claim top spot out of the group. Cook Islands play France, with an eye on finishing their World Cup campaign on a high.
Jordan Rapana’s late show ensured New Zealand survived a major scare to beat Fiji 24-18 and set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Australia.
In a classic encounter, the Bati had threatened to repeat their famous upset win at the same stage in 2017, as they led the quarter-final 12-6 at half-time after tries from Maika Sivo and captain Kevin Naiqama were followed by Ronaldo Mulitalo’s effort for the Kiwis.
Naiqama’s quick-thinking restablished his side’s 12-point cushion at the start of the second period but the number one ranked side in the world were at their imperious best, fighting back through tries from Briton Nikora and Joey Manu to level at 18-18 and set up a dramatic finish.
Rapana’s crucial penalty kick then gave the Kiwis the lead for the first time in the game, before the winger’s try sealed it in the closing stages.
Fiji will leave the tournament with their heads held high after arguably an even better performance, than the one that saw them knock New Zealand out in Wellington five years ago in what was undoubtedly the game of the tournament so far.
It was the Bati who got the dream start in Hull when winger Sivo barged through the tackles to go over in the corner for his fourth score of the tournament.
The lead was nothing less than Fiji deserved and when skipper Naiqama cut a superb short line through the Kiwi defence to cross the favourites were in real trouble.
But the Kiwis got themselves back in the contest when the pacey Mulitalo flew over in the corner for his second try of the tournament, with Rapana putting their kicking difficulties firmly behind them with a perfect touchline conversion.
New Zealand continued to bang on the door, Dylan Brown’s high kick causing a scramble in the left-hand corner and although they kept the ball in play the Kiwis could not find a way over the whitewash.
Mulitalo looked New Zealand’s main threat throughout the opening 40, but Fiji’s ability to withstand the pressure and maintain their physicality across the pitch ensured Wise Kativerata’s team led at the break.
The Kiwis had started the second half with a renewed purpose in their sets, but were dealt a further blow when Naiqama dummied from dummy-half and went down the short side before faking another pass to spin through the challenges to restore the Bati’s 12-point lead.
Undeterred, New Zealand responded when interchange Briton Nikora took advantage of Fiji’s defence dropping off the tackle close to the line to find the whitewash.
Only minutes later they went mightily close to levelling when Mulitalo looked to have grounded the ball in the corner only for Brandon Wakeham to produce a sensational last-ditch tackle, video referee Tom Grant confirming the on-field decision of no try.
Despite the half-back’s try-scoring save the 2008 world champions kept up the pressure, and they restored parity when Mulitalo’s clever burst infield gave magic man Manu his third try of the tournament.
Then came a thrilling last ten minutes, with Rapana showing no nerves to slot his penalty between the posts after New Zealand’s captain’s challenge overruled Gerard Sutton’s original knock-on call and saw Viliame Kikau penalised for stripping the ball illegally from Manu.
That swung the quarter-final the Kiwis way but there was still time for Fiji to throw everything at them in the closing minutes.
But they couldn’t take advantage of some sustained territory and Rapana had the final say by diving over in the corner in the dying seconds to close the book on a last eight classic
Mele Hufanga has been busy on the field this year representing Auckland in rugby union’s Farah Palmer Cup and playing local rugby league for the Ponsonby Ponies, but one thing she always knew was that she wanted to become a Kiwi Fern.
For the 28-year-old, that dream will come true on Sunday November 6, 5.00pm in York when the Kiwi Ferns take on the Cook Islands in their second match of the Rugby League World Cup.
“I started my rugby league journey on the wing and now I will debut on the wing,” Hufanga said.
“I got itchy feet watching the girls in their first game last week and I’m honestly excited and grateful for this opportunity to represent my family on the big stage.
“I still can’t describe the feeling, hopefully I can after I perform well on my debut (laughs).”
The dual athlete juggled both codes with trainings between Tuesday and Friday followed by a rugby union game on Saturday and rugby league match on Sunday until the seasons ended.
“To be honest I didn’t have a plan,” Hufanga said.
“I literally just wanted to enjoy my footy and take on any opportunity that came my way. I was lucky that Ricky (Henry) chose me for this campaign.
“I want to get this World Cup out of the way before I can start thinking ahead to next year, I don’t want to plan too far ahead as anything could happen between now and then.
“But I’m definitely sticking to rugby league next year. I’m not getting any younger and I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I need to stick to one code, I can’t be a superhero anymore and play both (laughs).
“I feel like rugby league is where I belong.”
Kiwi Ferns head coach Ricky Henry praised Hufanga for her commitment to the game so far.
“She’s been around for a few years and is an unbelievable talent,” Henry said.
“She’s got strike, she’s skilful and I didn’t know much about her personality, but she has come into this camp and really lifted the spirits of the group.
“She’s been massive not only on the field but off the field.”
The idea of suiting up for New Zealand at the World Cup grew stronger for Hufanga in June when she watched the Kiwi Ferns defeat a brave Mate Ma’a Tonga side 50-12 at Mount Smart Stadium.
“I knew Tonga weren’t going to compete at the World Cup so I thought it would be a cool opportunity for me to try and make the Kiwi Ferns squad. I told myself I wouldn’t know unless I tried,” Hufanga said.
“When I got the first call from Ricky it was an overwhelming feeling, I didn’t know how to feel.
“It’s been a crazy year for me, this is my biggest highlight and it’s the first time I’ve been in England so that’s pretty cool.”
Tune in LIVE on Spark Sport at 6.00am NZT (November 7) and delayed on Three at 9.30am.
Hull, England, November 5, 2022 – Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has been brought into the centres and Nelson Asofa-Solomona will again start in the second row in the New Zealand Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Fiji Bati at MKM Stadium in Hull today (7.30pm kick-off local time; 8.30am Sunday NZT).
In confirming the line-up for the match, head coach Michael Maguire has recalled Nicoll-Klokstad after using Briton Nikora in the centres in last week’s 48-10 win over Ireland.
The starting side is otherwise unchanged from the one used against the Wolfhounds.
Kieran Foran, Isaiah Papali’i and Isaac Liu are again on the interchange along with Nikora.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been withdrawn from the squad due to a hamstring injury. Scott Sorensen is 18th man and Jeremy Marshall-King is 19th man.
NZ KIWIS v FIJI
MKM Stadium, Hull
7.30pm, Saturday, November 5, 2022
For inquiries please contact:
New Zealand Kiwis
Mobile: +64 21 814 537
The Kiwi Ferns shook off a slow start against France to record a 46-0 shutout victory in their opening game of the Women’s World Cup.
Halfback Raecene McGregor, this season’s NRLW Dally M Medal winner, was the standout player for New Zealand, setting up three tries and handling most of the general play kicking.
It took the Kiwi Ferns 23 minutes to get going, as they struggled to break down a stubborn French line, but once that happened the tries came thick and fast for coach Ricky Henry’s side.
New Zealand scored four first-half tries, two of which were converted, for a 20-0 lead at the break, and scored a further five in the second period.
Despite the big scoreline, the Kiwi Ferns will know big improvement will be needed ahead of facing the Jillaroos later in group play.
“Bit of a slow start for us, but give credit to the French team who came out and put it on us. Really pleased with the effort, but we have got a lot of improvement in us.” – New Zealand coach Ricky Henry.
“We did well, we are really proud of our first half. This was the best game a French women’s team ever played. We learned a lot from this game” – France coach Vincent Baloup.
Both sides are back in action on Monday (AEDT), with France facing the back-to-back world champion Jillaroos and the Kiwi Ferns taking on Cook Islands.
This time last year Kiwi Ferns captain Krystal Rota was adamant she wasn’t going to play in the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.
In 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic presented several challenges for New Zealanders and for Krystal, the wellbeing of her family was paramount especially for her daughter Nikayla Dunn.
Eight-year-old Nikayla has a rare kidney disorder and had a kidney transplant at the age of fifteen months.
“It’s one of her dad’s kidneys, that’s what makes it hard to maintain is that it was an adult kidney put into a baby’s body,” Krystal said.
“Obviously it takes a lot of work and maintenance to keep that kidney functioning to the best of its ability. Maintenance involves a lot of medication for her, time to ensure she remains well and when COVID-19 was first around she was prone to get sick easily.”
When New Zealand went into its first-ever lockdown in August 2021, Krystal said she didn’t leave her house for months.
“Leaving the house would have put a huge risk on Nikayla’s health and I have a son too. Protecting them was important so I had my family do the shopping for me,” Krystal said.
“There were also talks about postponement but by then I had already decided that if the competition was to go ahead I would’ve stayed behind with my daughter as my family will always come first no matter what.
“I’m grateful though that it was moved, I was given the opportunity to come across and here I am now.
“Lockdown put a lot of challenges in front of me but when you want something so bad like I did, to compete at this World Cup you do anything to make it possible.”
Leading the Kiwi Ferns in her second World Cup in England, the impossible was made possible and Nikayla has travelled from New Zealand to attend Krystal’s games.
“To see her in the crowd will mean the world to me,” Krystal said.
“I think back to when the squad was named last year, I spoke to her specialist and she ruled out the idea. To know she’s here is a massive achievement in itself.
“Looking ahead to our first game all the nations have come here to win the World Cup that’s the end goal.
“We’ve come here to put our best foot forward and hopefully take the cup back home to New Zealand.”
The Kiwi Ferns will play their Rugby League World Cup Pool B opener against France on Wednesday, November 2 at 5.00pm local time (Thursday, November 3, 6.00am NZT) at the LNER Community Stadium in York.
Forty-eight hours from their first RLWC Test match against France, under half of the Kiwi Ferns have unfortunately lost their training kit and personal belongings due to smoke damage in their training facility. No-one was present in the area affected at the time.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says,“This was an unfortunate incident but the problem was quickly dealt with and the training ground are in the process of bringing facilities back online. No outdoor facilities have been affected and the staff at the training ground have been exceptional in supporting us.”
“In the meantime, our main priority is the Fern’s wellbeing and ensuring the team is supported through this.”
Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Ricky Henry says, “It’s been tough for the girls; some have gone well over 24 hours without being able to contact loved ones, unless through a staff member’s phone.
“Sometimes these freak accidents happen, and this one was out of anyone’s control. NZRL are working to replace the damage, and as a team, we will rally together, support each other and focus on what’s ahead.”
The Kiwi Ferns head to LNER Stadium in York to face France in their RLWC opener this Wednesday, November 2, at 5.00pm BST (Thursday, November 3, 6:00am NZT).
The match will be live on Spark Sport and delayed on Three for New Zealand viewers.
NRLW Premiership winner Shanice Parker and forwards Otesa Pule and Brianna Clark will make their New Zealand Test debuts in the Kiwi Ferns’ Rugby League World Cup Group B opener against France.
The match will kick off on Wednesday, November 2 at 5.00pm local time (Thursday, November 3, 6.00am NZT) at the LNER Community Stadium in York.
Parker, a Grand Finalist for the Newcastle Knights, was named in coach Ricky Henry’s starting line-up and will join Page McGregor in the centres who made her Kiwi Ferns Test debut earlier this year against Mate Ma’a Tonga.
Second rower Pule and prop Clark add strength to the starting forward pack consisting of Brisbane’s Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala and Amber-Paris Hall, Māori All Stars Mya Hill-Moana and Roxette Murdoch-Masila and Gold Coast’s Georgia Hale named in lock.
NRLW Dally M winner Raecene McGregor and veteran Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly were named in the halves, while captain Krystal Rota leads from hooker.
NZ Kiwi Ferns team v France by squad number and position:
21 | Shanice Parker (Centre)
3 | Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly (Five Eighth)
8 | Mya Hill-Moana (Prop)
23 | Brianna Clark (Interchange)
20 | Crystal Tamarua (18th Woman)
24 | Mele Hufanga (19th Woman)
They don’t know it yet, but on the other side of the world right now two infants are helping break new ground for the Kiwi Ferns.
Felix, the 13-month-old son of Kiwi Ferns fullback Apii Nicholls, and Jakari, the 10-month-old son of Test newcomer Shanice Parker, have been welcomed into the New Zealand camp for the Women’s World Cup as part of a new policy introduced by coach Ricky Henry.
Both boys flew to England with the squad and will stay with their mums – who each have a primary carer with them – for the entirety of the tournament, as the team embraces a new way to support the young mums in their ranks.
It’s an important step forward for New Zealand’s elite female players, with the Kiwi Ferns following a string of other women’s sporting sides and competitions, including New Zealand’s women’s Super Rugby Aupiki competition, who have adopted similar approaches in recent times.
For Nicholls and Parker, the new policy means they avoided having to decide between being separated from their kids for a month, or turning down the chance to represent their nation on the biggest stage in England.
After returning to the NRLW arena this year with the Titans, Nicholls said leaving Felix back home while she toured wasn’t an option.
“When Ricky asked if I was available, I was doubting myself. I had just got back to footy but I also had baby, and I wanted baby with me wherever I travelled,” Nicholls told NRL.com.
“I am so grateful that Ricky and the team were able to accommodate me having the baby here with me.”
For Newcastle Knights back Parker, it’s also presented her with a chance to make valuable memories with Jakari.
“It means everything to me to have baby in camp,” she said.
“I have thought about how special it is. I thought how cool it was to have baby alongside me through all the moments this year, including winning the NRLW GF, but nothing tops bringing baby to the World Cup.
“This will definitely be one to remember.”
Kiwi Ferns legend Honey Hireme told NRL.com she hopes it will eventually become an accepted part of women’s elite sport.
“That’s just how it should be, and the more sports that get on board with that and support their female athletes the better,” Hireme told NRL.com.
“It’s actually becoming the norm. You are seeing it in other codes now where female athletes can travel with their young babies.
“I think back to my first World Cup in 2003, which was in New Zealand, and we at times had a couple of kids who would come in and visit in camp, but they weren’t travelling alongside the team.
“It’s great for the current Kiwi Ferns to be able to take their babies along.”
Almost every sports team in the world, no matter the code, will tell you that the concept of family is an integral part of their values, and the Kiwi Ferns are no exception.
In making this decision, Henry wants it to be known that those ideas are more than just words.
“We are all about family and want to make sure we keep the camp environment as close as possible to when we are at home,” Henry told NRL.com.
“We talk about family as one of our values, and we want to make sure that we cater for that as well.
“The game and the world is changing and we have to cater for these things.”
At the end of the day, the Kiwi Ferns core focus is on winning the World Cup.
While every mum will feel and react differently to it, there is little doubt that being separated from young children, who remain heavily dependent on their mums, for long periods is an unsettling experience for all involved.
With that in mind, Henry believes having Felix and Jakari nearby will help Nicholls and Parker prepare and perform better.
“We want to make sure that the baby is comfortable, but also that the mum is comfortable too,” Henry said.
“We think they can play their best football if they have their child there and have that peace of mind.
“If we can help players play their best football and feel content, that’s what we are aiming for.”
Parker said if Jakari was back home in Australia, there is no way her focus on the World Cup could be as strong as it is with him in camp.
“It just makes the whole experience so much easier, having them and a carer in camp with us so we aren’t stressing or missing them for a month.
“It means we are able to balance both being athlete and mum. Getting the best of both worlds.”
October 28, 2022
As seen on NRL.com.
Page McGregor has played plenty of footy alongside older sister Raecene over the years, but is looking forward to the unique experience of doing it at the upcoming World Cup with her sibling being a newly-crowned Dally M Medal winner.
Since watching Raecene pick up the 2022 NRLW Dally M Medal last month, Page has embarked on a proud victory lap on her sister’s behalf.
“I am always going around showing people her medal and giving her praise,” Page told NRL.com.
“She doesn’t really worry about that stuff, it’s definitely more me.
“She loves that she got the award and everything, but she’s just really humble.
“She has really deserved this. She has worked so hard over the years and deserves this credit.
Both McGregor siblings are set to play a key role for the Kiwi Ferns as they seek to win their first World Cup since 2008.
After a stunning NRLW campaign with the Roosters, which saw her top the competition with 10 try assists in five games, Raecene will don the No.7 jersey for coach Ricky Henry, while Page is set to play in the centres following her Test debut earlier this year against Tonga.
Raecene told NRL.com she was excited to line up alongside her sister again, while also taking comfort from having two of her key forwards from the Roosters – Mya Hill-Moana and Otesa Pule – in the team.
“It’s awesome to have Page here. We haven’t really been able to play too much together due to injury and now playing for separate clubs,” Raecene said.
“But to play Tests together is special and I can’t wait.
“It’s really cool to have some of those Roosters girls here too and for them to be rewarded for their achievements through the year.
“I have been really enjoying my footy this season and now looking forward to getting on the park with these girls.”
The Kiwi Ferns, who will be based in York along with their New Zealand male counterparts, open their campaign against France on November 3 (AEST), before taking on Cook Islands and Australia in Group B.
If Apii Nicholls is able to return to her damaging best for the Kiwi Ferns during the upcoming Women’s World Cup in England, it will be thanks in part to the influence of a 20-Test Jillaroo.
After two years away from the game, during which time she gave birth to her second son Felix, Nicholls questioned whether she still belonged at NRLW level at the start of the 2022 season.
It was at that point that Steph Hancock, the 40-year-old Titans prop and Jillaroos legend, took it upon herself to become somewhat of a personal mentor to her teammate, with words of encouragement that proved crucial during the pre-season on the Gold Coast.
“Steph was pushing me, telling me that I am ready and that I haven’t lost that elite ability. She supported me to keep going because she felt like I was ready and I could do this,” Nicholls told NRL.com.
“Playing with her, her leadership on the field, she inspires me to do my best.
“To this day she checks in now and then to make sure my mind is in the game.
“You need people like that in your life.”
Nicholls went on to appear in each of the Gold Coast’s five NRLW games this past season, playing as both a fullback and centre, before earning a call up from Kiwi Ferns coach Ricky Henry.
Hancock said she is in awe of how Nicholls and other mum’s managed to return to the field after giving birth, recalling a moment in the Titans’ round 2 clash with the Knights which tested even her own concentration levels.
“I don’t know how Apii actually managed. At the Titans’ home game this year I distinctly remember her son Felix in the stands being looked after, literally at kick off, and I could hear him screaming,” Hancock told NRL.com.
“I looked over at her and you could see she probably wasn’t concentrating and she threw a wild pass right at the start but then came right.
“Even though she definitely has the ability and the talent, I think she sort of second guessed herself with her confidence.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to get to know Apii.”
However Hancock admits the cordial relationship will be tested if Nicholls goes on to help New Zealand beat Australia to the World Cup title.
“I will be filthy, I’m not going to lie. That will have an impact on our friendship,” Hancock laughed.
“Being a Jillaroo for 20 years my heart is with the green and gold and I hope we do it for a third time in a row.”
28th October 2022
With the Kiwis World Cup campaign gaining momentum and the Kiwi Ferns about to get underway, it is time to support our whānau in England together. NZRL will host ‘Watch Parties’ at certain Auckland clubs to provide an avenue for fans to watch and support our teams as one.
Mangere East Hawks and Mt Albert Lions have opened their clubs to host the watch parties. This Saturday, October 29th, both clubs will host the Kiwis vs Ireland fixture, which will kick off at 7:30 am. Both clubs will provide a menu for both breakfast and coffee.
We encourage everyone to come and support our men and women representing Aotearoa!
Confirmed Watch Parties:
Kiwis vs Ireland – 29th October 7:30 am (Doors open at 7 am)
Kiwi Ferns vs France – 3rd November 6:30 am (Doors open at 6 am)
Kiwi Ferns vs Jillaroos – 11th November 8:30 am (Doors open at 8 am)
Finals rounds to be confirmed*
October 27, 2022
Richmond utility Abigail Roache has been brought into the Kiwi Ferns touring squad to replace prop Kararaina Wira-Kohu who unfortunately suffered a calf tear last Saturday.
Roache was awarded the Cathy Friend Women’s Player of the Year Award at the Auckland Rugby League Annual Awards earlier this year and is yet to make her Kiwi Ferns debut.
“Losing Kararaina was a huge loss for us knowing how hard she worked over the past four years, on behalf of the team I wish her well on her recovery,” Head coach Ricky Henry said.
“Abigail’s selection was a reward for her current form in New Zealand right now.
“She can cover multiple positions and I’m looking forward to seeing what she has to offer in this campaign.”
Kiwi Ferns World Cup squad (amended) by touring number:
1 Apii Nicholls
2 Katelyn Vahaakolo
3 Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly
4 Page McGregor
5 Madison Bartlett
6 Laishon Albert-Jones
7 Raecene McGregor
8 Mya Hill-Moana
9 Krystal Rota
10 Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala
11 Roxette Murdoch-Masila
12 Amber-Paris Hall
13 Georgia Hale
14 Nita Maynard
15 Abigail Roache
16 Charlotte Scanlan
17 Christyl Stowers
18 Otesa Pule
19 Hailee-Jay Ormond-Maunsell
20 Crystal Tamarua
21 Shanice Parker
22 Karli Hansen
23 Brianna Clark
24 Mele Hufanga
October 26, 2022
As seen on Lockeroom.
Mya Hill-Moana is just out of her teens, but already a role model and leader in the Kiwi Ferns about to play in the Rugby League World Cup in England. And the promising frontrower brings both her rampaging runs and te ao Māori values to the side.
At 15, Mya Hill-Moana first joined Taniwharau, the local rugby league club in Huntly where her dad still played – even though her parents weren’t too keen on her taking the field.
At 16, after watching the first season of the NRLW on TV, she bravely left her close-knit whānau to move across the Tasman and pursue her dream of becoming “a footie star”.
By 18, Hill-Moana – who’s Waikato Tainui and fluent in te reo Māori – was leading the haka for the Māori All Stars in their annual encounter with the Indigenous All Stars; the rookie making her presence felt on the field of play, too.
Now, at the tender age of 20, she wears an NRLW Premiership ring and she’s on her way to the Rugby League World Cup in England, already a blossoming leader in the Kiwi Ferns side.
In her biggest season yet, she’s a strong bet to establish herself in the Ferns’ starting XIII at this tournament – and to help fellow frontrower Kararaina Wira-Kohu lead their haka, Te Iwi Kiwi, whenever the team take on their opposition over the next five weeks.
Hill-Moana performed a beautiful karakia when her team-mates arrived in camp in Auckland on Friday, to begin their final build-up to the World Cup which kicks off next week.
“It was a huge honour to be asked to do the karakia, but a bit nerve-wracking,” she says. “I’m not the type to stand up in front of crowds and speak.
“But it makes me proud of who I am and where I come from. And it helps to boost my confidence and helps me grow as a person.”
Leading the haka also allows Hill-Moana to release her pre-game nerves. “Being able to lead the girls into war out there, pretty much, and being able to show our Māori culture to the world is so cool,” she says.
Hill-Moana is fully aware, too, she’ll have lots of young eyes on her – she’s become a role model for kōtiro (girls) in her hometown of Huntly and the Taniwharau club where her league journey began. Girls who want to follow her path to making a profession from playing the game they love.
The impact of the powerful young prop no doubt reaches well beyond the Waikato.
A two-test Kiwi Fern, Hill-Moana has already won an NRLW Premiership title with the Sydney Roosters and is a regular in the Māori All Stars.
She laughs when she thinks about what else she’d be doing if she wasn’t playing league. “That’s a good question – I have no idea. I don’t have any other career goals. Since I was 16, I’ve had this dream to make it in footie,” she says.
“It actually blows my mind sometimes; I buzz out at what I’ve done at this age. I’ve won a NRLW Premiership and I’m going to the World Cup at 20. I would never have imagined this would happen so soon.”
Before the Kiwi Ferns squad flew out of Auckland yesterday, eager to play in their first World Cup match against France in just over a week, Hill-Moana and Wira-Kohu spoke to three New Zealand girls sides playing in an inaugural tournament in Auckland on the weekend.
They are the next generation of Kiwi Ferns, and Hill-Moana takes being an example setter seriously.
“I know a lot of people back home in Huntly look up to me, and I think it’s possible for our younger generation – listen to me talking like I’m old – to follow my path, if they’re willing to take it,” she says.
“And I think I’m the perfect example of that coming through the all stages – of NZ Māori, the rangatahi tournaments, playing in the NZNRL – and having the courage to leave my family and pursue my dream over in Australia.”
Hill-Moana’s own role model has been her dad, Tame Moana. For as far back as she can remember, her ‘warhorse’ dad has played prop for Taniwharau, a club in which her whānau have always been deeply involved. “But he’s nearly 50 now, so hopefully he’s hung up his boots for good,” she laughs.
“My dad taught me the basics of footie, making sure I was tackling and training right. He’s also my biggest critic, which keeps me humble. Even when he says: ‘You had a good game’, he will always point out my work-ons, which I’m very grateful for.”
She learned to tackle playing league with the boys at Ngā Taiātea Wharekura, a kaupapa Māori immersion secondary school in Hamilton, but she didn’t take the sport beyond that until she was 15.
“That was when I first started playing for our Taniwharau club,” she says. “At first my parents didn’t want me to play because it was such a physical sport. But over the years, I dropped netball, I dropped all the sports I was doing to pursue my dream of becoming a footie star.”
Hill-Moana admits it was “scary” leaving home at 16 to stay with family in Australia so she could establish her league career. She started off in the Tarsha Gale Cup, the elite U18 women’s competition in New South Wales, for the Roosters and then the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 2020. Then Covid froze all competition, and she came home.
But it gave the teenager the chance to help the Upper Central Stallions win the NZNRL women’s competition and to debut for the Kiwi Ferns against Fetu Samoa at the end of 2020. As an interchange player, she came onto the Mt Smart field and made an instant impression with strong runs down the middle and a high work-rate.
“Going from playing under 19s to women’s football was definitely different, but it was so much fun,” she recalls.
When she eventually returned to Australia to play in the 2021 All Stars match, she was scouted for NRLW by the Roosters. She cemented her place in the starting front row for the premiership grand final in April (Taniwharau presented her with the club’s coveted green blazer when she returned home to Huntly) and she’s regarded as one of the best young forwards in the Roosters’ club system.
“I’m really enjoying my footie at the moment,” Hill-Moana says. “My knowledge of the game has grown, which has made me more strategic around how I play. I owe so much to our coach John Strange and the management team at the Roosters for that growth.”
Now she’s excited to see her game make another leap forward at her first international league tournament in the eight-nation World Cup. “We’ve come back together, with a few new faces, and the vibe is good,” Hill-Moana says. The last time the team played together was a 50-12 test victory over Mate Ma’a Tonga in June, where Hill-Moana started at prop and racked up 12 runs for 106 metres and 15 tackles.
Her goal in England next month? “To win it,” she says matter-of-factly. “We have a lot of different levels of experience, we’re coming from different clubs, and everyone’s contributing different skills and abilities. And yes, we can put all that together to win the World Cup.”
Her proud parents will be in the crowd, with an aunty and cousin also travelling from New Zealand. “My mum will get right to the front of the stand and try to yell at me during the game. Even if there are thousands of people there, I’ll probably still hear her,” Hill-Moana laughs.
It’s been 14 years since the Kiwi Ferns have won the World Cup, and Hill-Moana knows it will be a game-changer for the sport in Aotearoa if they bring the silverware home. Because there’s nothing she wants more than to grow the game here, so there’s a pathway for girls to reach the top.
“I want to help create a New-Zealand based programme or pathway for girls, maybe to the Warriors. And then they can pursue a professional career here instead of having to go and live in Australia like I did,” she says. “That’s a really important goal of mine.”
*The Kiwi Ferns open their Rugby League World Cup campaign against France on Thursday, November 3, at 6am (NZT) live on Spark Sport, with delayed coverage at 9.30am on Three.
22 October 2022
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak equaled the record for most tries in a single World Cup match by a Kiwi, crossing four times in New Zealand’s 68-6 victory over Jamaica in Hull.
The veteran Warriors winger scored four tries – with the first three coming inside the opening 20 minutes of the match – and set up another two with clever kicks back in field, before leaving the field with cramp in the 62nd minute.
The haul equaled Manu Vatuvei’s effort against England at the 2008 edition of the tournament.
While they were outclassed on the day by the world No.1 Kiwis, Jamaica excited with an adventurous style of play and scored their first ever World Cup try through national team stalwart Ben Jones-Bishop.
New Zealand scored seven first-half tries, but led by the relatively modest margin of 34-0 at the break due to Kieran Foran converting only three attempts, as the veteran half struggled with the responsibility handed to him with Jordan Rapana (not selected) and Dylan Brown (illness) out of the squad.
Of main concern for the Kiwis will be prop Moses Leota (leg) and utility Marata Niukore (chest) failing to play the second half.
“I am real pleased how the players went about what they did. From our last game to this one I thought our cohesion was better, but we also know we can get better again.” – New Zealand coach Michael Maguire.
Ahead of the quarter-finals the Kiwis take on Ireland in Leeds, while Jamaica conclude their maiden World Cup campaign against Lebanon.
21 October as seen on nrl.com
Panthers forward Scott Sorensen will become the fifth member of his family to play for the Kiwis when he and Raiders back Sebastian Kris make their Test debuts against World Cup newcomer Jamaica.
Penrith team-mate James Fisher-Harris will also captain the Kiwis for the first time in place of skipper Jesse Bromwich.
The 29-year-old’s selection comes more than 70 years after his late grandfather Bill Sorensen began his New Zealand career.
Bill went on to play 24 Tests from 1951-1960, while his brother Dave, who is Scott’s great uncle, represented New Zealand in 1971-1972.
Scott’s uncles Dane and Kurt Sorensen left an indelible mark on the rugby league landscape, playing 45 Tests between them for the Kiwis in the course of their outstanding professional careers spanning the 1970, ‘80s and ‘90s.
Dane finished his NRL career with 229 appearances for Cronulla-Sutherland and Eastern Suburbs including a then-club record 216 for the Sharks.
Kurt made almost 130 NRL appearances for the Sharks and more than 250 for Widnes, ending his career with the club with a try in the 1993 Challenge Cup grand final loss to Wigan.
Kris also caps a remarkable story of his own by earning his first Test jersey after he stepped aside from the NRL in 2020 before reviving his career in 2021.
He scored a first half hat-trick in his first appearance in the Kiwi jersey in the 74-0 match against Leeds on October 8.
The 24-year-old forms a new combination on the flanks with Warriors winger and former Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who is returning to the side for his 13th Test after last appearing in the home Test win over Mate M’a Tonga in 2019.
They come in for Ronaldo Mulitalo and Jordan Rapana who both played in the opening 34-12 win over the Lebanon Cedars in Warrington last Sunday.
Kiwis coach Michael Maguire has also made other changes, with Marata Niukore replacing 2023 Warriors team-mate Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in the centres and Moses Leota to start alongside Penrith front-row partner James Fisher-Harris.
Leota was named for the match against Lebanon but was ruled out after picking up a minor groin injury in the team’s final field session.
He comes into the side for captain Jesse Bromwich, with Fisher-Harris chosen to lead the Kiwis on Saturday.
There’s a swap in the second row which sees Cronulla-Sutherland’s Briton Nikora moved from his bench role against Lebanon to start against Jamaica, while Wests Tigers-bound Isaiah Papali’i is switched to the interchange.
Also out of the side this week is Canberra forward Joseph Tapine, with Gold Coast’s Isaac Liu recalled for his ninth Test.
New Zealand squad:
1 Joseph Manu, 24 Sebastian Kris, 3 Marata Niukore, 4 Peta Hiku, 19 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak; 6 Dylan Brown, 14 Kieran Foran; 15 Moses Leota, 9 Brandon Smith, 10 James Fisher-Harris (C), 12 Kenny Bromwich, 17 Briton Nikora, 20 Isaac Liu, 11; Isaiah Papali’I, 16 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 22 Jeremy Marshall-King, 23 Scott Sorensen; 21 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 8 Jesse Bromwich
Warrington, England, October 16, 2022 – Front rower Moses Leota has been ruled out of the New Zealand Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup opener against Lebanon at Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington today (7.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30am Monday NZT).
Penrith’s NRL grand final-winning prop has been withdrawn from the line-up after picking up a minor groin injury in yesterday’s final field session.
Parramatta’s Marata Niukore replaces Leota on the interchange with Panthers forward Scott Sorensen taking Niukore’s place as 19th man.
Niukore will be playing his second Test for the Kiwis after making his New Zealand debut in the June international against Mate Ma’a Tonga.
Leota will be available for the Kiwis’ second match against Jamaica next Saturday.
NZ KIWIS v LEBANON
Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington
Sunday 16 October 2022 7:30pm
Monday 17 October 2022 7:30am NZT
Warrington, England, October 15, 2022 – Hooker Jeremy-Marshall has been called up to make his Test debut after halfback Jahrome Hughes was today ruled out of the New Zealand Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup opener against Lebanon at Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington on Sunday (7.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30am Monday NZT).
The 28-year-old Hughes was ruled out after picking up a slight thigh strain in the Kiwis’ field session at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate near York on Thursday.
In his absence, the 26-year-old Marshall-King comes onto the interchange with veteran Kieran Foran (32) replacing Hughes at halfback for his 23rd Test.
Marshall-King, Kiwi great Benji Marshall’s younger brother, became Kiwi #830 when he wore the New Zealand jersey for the first time – and scored a try – in last week’s 74-0 warm-up win against Leeds.
Maguire said Hughes would be available for the Kiwis’ second Pool C match against the Jamaicans in Hull next Saturday.
Sunday 16 October 2022
Monday 17 October 2022 7:30am NZT – Live on Spark Sport
Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich is hoping New Zealand’s star-studded World Cup side can help put rugby league back on the map in his homeland after two years ravaged by the COVID 19 pandemic.
The New Zealand rugby league community did it incredibly tough in 2020 and ’21 as lockdowns played havoc with grassroots competitions and the nation’s only NRL team was relocated to Australia for nearly three years.
Taking the field in June at Mt Smart Stadium for the 30th Test of his decorated career, Bromwich was stunned to be confronted by a sea of red supporting Tonga rather than the black and white of New Zealand.
“The New Zealand I remember was a very strong rugby league nation and going back there I’ve noticed the game has taken a huge hit,” Bromwich told the media at the World Cup launch in England.
“To have the Tongans sell out Mt Smart and not the Kiwis was a bit of a sign of what is going on, so I look forward to representing everyone back home as best we can.
“We understand rugby league has taken a massive hit back home and we’re over here representing all of them and our families as well so hopefully, this competition can be a bit of a springboard for rugby league back home.”
Match Highlights: Kiwis v Mate Ma’a Tonga
Bromwich, who made his Test debut a decade ago against Australia in the 2012 Anzac Test, has complete faith in coach Michael Maguire’s ability to bring the absolute best out in the Kiwis.
With 14 years having passed since the nation’s lone World Cup success, Maguire knows the time has come to produce something special on the game’s biggest stage.
“The players know the World Club is a really big thing for what could happen in NZ and rugby league,” Maguire said.
“To be able to put a World Cup back into New Zealand would be incredible – it’s quite amazing to think they’ve only won one over the period of time with the number of great players that have come out of New Zealand.
“I do know (the situation) because I’ve been over there and unfortunately because of no Warriors and no international games for kids to aspire to, I think we can put the game back on the map over there and the players are aware of what a World Cup could mean for the country.”
Maguire is the first non-Kiwi to coach the New Zealand side since Daniel Anderson in the early 2000s, although Wayne Bennett was an assistant to Stephen Kearney when the men in black stunned Australia to claim the 2008 title.
Bromwich is adamant Maguire’s passion for the job and for New Zealand rugby league in general has the Kiwis primed for a shot at glory, with their campaign kicking off against the Michael Cheika-coached Lebanon on Monday.
“I think 2017 was a real low point for New Zealand rugby league and Madge (Maguire) came and took over and we’ve gone on to make strides,” said Bromwich.
“Since day one he’s spoken about being the best team in the world and we’ve talked about that every camp since so we really believe in what Madge is doing.
“He’s done a really good job for NZ rugby league, the thing about him is he’s just so passionate. I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Having won their last three Tests, most recently against Tonga in June, the Kiwis have cemented their spot at the top of the world rankings and the presence of a posse of premiership-winning Panthers has them full of confidence.
After missing the 74-0 win over Leeds in a warm-up game, James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen have now joined the squad along with Eels trio Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore.
“I appreciate Leeds turning up two weeks after a [Super League] grand final, I know that must have been really tough, but to be able to keep them to nil with them throwing the ball all over the place and really chancing their arm, it was a very special defensive effort,” Bromwich said.
“We had Joey (Tapine) and Jared (Waerea-Hargreaves) miss the game and we also had six grand final players missing so we had some pretty special players sitting on the sideline watching.
“We’ve got some talent to come in. It’s crazy. I don’t envy our coach’s job, it’s going to be really tough to tell some players they won’t be playing.”
Bromwich was part of the Kiwi side humbled 34-2 by Australia in the 2013 World Cup Final, and while the scoreline stung he has fond memories of the atmosphere created by 75,000 raucous fans at Old Trafford.
“I think the main thing for me is the noise the crowd makes over here, it’s totally different to the crowds back home in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
“There’s a lot of AFL and cricket grounds at home but here the crowds are right on top of you.
“I think it’s more the soak-it-up mentality in World Cup. It’s about coming over and enjoying a life experience on the other side of the world.”
With the World Cup fast approaching, NRL.com takes a look at how each Group shapes up and who are the key men who have to stand up if their nation is to progress to the knockout stages…
All eyes will be on 2008 World Cup champions New Zealand, who enter Pool C as the hottest of favourites to win all three games and progress to the quarter-finals with plenty of confidence under their belt.
Huge interest in how the Luke Keary-inspired Ireland and the Mitch Moses-led Lebanon fare, with the result of their clash in Leigh on October 24 likely to determine who progresses alongside the Kiwis.
In former Wallaby coach Michael Cheika and Wests Tigers legend Robbie Farah, Lebanon have a passionate and astute coaching team sure to have something special up their sleeve for the big occasion.
With Moses and Adam Doueihi teaming up in the halves and Jacob Kiraz and Josh Mansour out wide, the Cedars have the firepower to trouble all their rivals.
The Reggae Warriors are likely to find the going tough, particularly with Knights winger Dom Young having made the difficult call to represent England rather than his Jamaican heritage, but the likes of Ashton Golding, Ben Jones-Bishop and Michael Lawrence will rip in for coach Romeo Montheith and provide plenty of entertainment for fans along the way.
Squad: Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Storm), Jesse Bromwich (Storm), Kenny Bromwich (Storm), Dylan Brown (Eels), James Fisher-Harris (Panthers), Kieran Foran (Sea Eagles), Peta Hiku (Cowboys), Jahrome Hughes (Storm), Sebastian Kris (Raiders), Moses Leota (Panthers), Isaac Liu (Titans), Joseph Manu (Roosters), Jeremy Marshall-King (Bulldogs), Ronaldo Mulitalo (Sharks), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Raiders), Briton Nikora (Sharks), Marata Niukore (Eels), Isaiah Papali’i (Eels), Jordan Rapana (Raiders), Brandon Smith (Storm), Scott Sorensen (Panthers), Joseph Tapine (Raiders), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Warriors).
Key Player: Take your pick from a squad brimming with superstars but Roosters-bound hooker Brandon Smith and his new team-mate Joseph Manu loom as influential figures in the Kiwis’ campaign. At his best Smith is one of the game’s most dynamic ball runners while Manu’s 145 tackle breaks, 11 tries and 13 line breaks played a huge role in helping the Roosters into the NRL play-offs.
Strengths: Michael Maguire has assembled an awesome forward pack which features James Fisher-Harris, Jesse Bromwich, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joseph Tapine to make the hard yards with Briton Nikora, Kenny Bromwich and Isaiah Papali’i to punch holes on the edge. A number of these Test stalwarts are most likely playing at their last World Cup and will be desperate to go out on a high with their Kiwi brothers.
Weaknesses: This is one of the most complete squads lining up at the 2022 World Cup and they should power through Pool C on their way to a potential semi-final showdown with Australia. If you’re looking for a ‘weakness’, the fact they must confront the Kangaroos before the final is the only drawback for the 2008 champions.
History at World Cup: The Kiwis have been a mainstay of the World Cup, having taken part in every tournament since the inaugural tournament in France in 1954. Their finest moment came in 2008 at Suncorp Stadium when Benji Marshall led them to a stunning 34-20 upset win in the final against Australia.
Squad: James Bentley (Leeds), Keanan Brand (Leigh), Liam Byrne (Wigan), Ed Chamberlain (Leigh), Josh Cook (Bulldogs), Frankie Halton (Hull KR), James Hasson (Rabbitohs), Jaimin Jolliffe (Titans), Luke Keary (Roosters), Joe Keyes (Halifax), Toby King (Warrington), George King (Captain) (Hull KR), Ben Mathiou (Featherstone), James McDonnell (Wigan), Ronan Michael (York), Robbie Mulhern (Warrington), Richie Myler (Leeds), Dan Norman (St Helens), Henry O’Kane (Wests Tigers), Harry Rushton (Huddersfield), Innes Senior (Huddersfield), Louis Senior (Hull KR), Michael Ward (Batley).
Key Player: Roosters superstar Luke Keary, who qualifies for Ireland through his father, is set to be one of the star attractions. The 30-year-old had 22 try assists and 20 line break assists in 22 games for the Roosters this season and will form handy halves combination with Leeds veteran Richie Myler, who helped the Rhinos to the Super League decider where they went down to St Helens. Myler has previously played eight Tests for England but has switched allegiances to Ireland.
Strengths: Coach Ged Corcoran will roll out a powerful pack featuring Gold Coast’s Jaimin Jolliffe and Hull KR’s George King in the middle, former Raider Harry Rushton on the edge and Wigan prop Liam Byrne doing the heavy lifting alongside Warrington’s Robbie Mulhern.
Weaknesses: Having not made an international appearance since the European Qualifiers in late 2019, Ireland may take some time to get their combinations going, but their passion coupled with Keary’s class gives them a real shot at moving into the knockout stages.
History at World Cup: The Wolfhounds are appearing at their fifth World Cup after being there in 2000, 2008, 2013 and 2017. Their best results came in 2000, where they made it to the quarter-finals and were beaten by England, and in 2008 when they finished on top of their pool and progressed to a semi-final qualifier against Fiji, which they lost 30-14.
Squad: Jordan Andrade (unnattached), Mo Agoro (Keighley Cougars), Chevaughn Bailey (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Joe Brown (Workington Town), Jy-Mel Coleman (Unattached), Joel Farrell (Sheffield Eagles), Ashton Golding (Huddersfield Giants), Bradley Ho (Keighley Cougars), Greg Johnson (Batley Bulldogs), Aaron Jones-Bishop (Cornwall RLFC), Ben Jones-Bishop (Sheffield Eagles), Michael Lawrence (Huddersfield Giants), Abevia McDonald (London Skolars), Khamisi McKain (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Jacob Ogden (York City Knights), Ross Peltier (Dewsbury Rams), Kieran Rush (Huddersfield Giants), Andrew Simpson (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Marvin Thompson (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Keenen Tomlinson (Dewsbury Rams), Renaldo Wade (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), AJ Wallace (Bradford Bulls), James Woodburn-Hall (Halifax Panthers), Alex Young (Workington Town)
Key Player: Michael Lawrence has played more than 300 matches in the forwards for the Huddersfield Giants and previously represented England Knights. The 190cm, 105kg lock made his Huddersfield debut as a 17-year-old in 2007, becoming the first Super League player born in the 1990s to make his Super League debut. “Pulling on a shirt feels massive,” he said. “It feels like you’re representing the whole Caribbean community in the UK and all the people who came over from Jamaica,” he said earlier this year.
Strengths: The fighting spirit that carried them to a 16-10 win over the USA in Jacksonville in 2018 which secured their ticket to the Big Dance. They have since followed up with another win over the USA in 2019 and a draw against Scotland so the belief is growing that they belong on the world stage.
Weaknesses: The absence of Kallum Watkins and Dom Young, who are both playing for England, leaves the Cup debutants short on strike power, although veteran flyer Ben Jones-Bishop continues to rack up impressive tryscoring numbers, including 20 in 28 games for Sheffield this season.
History at World Cup: Jamaica are making their maiden World Cup appearance having qualified for the tournament by winning the 2018 Americas Championship.
Squad: Jalal Bazzaz (Wests Illawarra), Adam Doueihi (Wests Tigers), Hanna El-Nachar (Panthers), Toufic El-Hajj (American University of Beirut), Elie El-Zakhem (Eels), Atef Hamdan (Wolves, Lebanon), Kayne Kalache (Newtown Jets), Andrew Kazzi (Western Suburbs Magpies), Jacob Kiraz (Bulldogs), Bilaal Maarbani (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles), Anthony Layoun (St Marys Saints), Josh Mansour (Rabbitohs), Josh Maree (Wentworthville United), Tony Maroun (Ryde-Eastwood Hawks), Abbas Miski (Wigan Warriors), Brandon Morkos (Raiders), Mitchell Moses (Eels), Jaxson Rahme (Rabbitohs), Khalil Rahme (Mt Pritchard Mounties), Khaled Rajab (Bulldogs), Reece Robinson (unattached), James Roumanos (Sea Eagles), Mikey Tannous (Wests Tigers), Charbel Tasipale (Newtown Jets).
Key Player: Mitch Moses can put the heartache of Parramatta’s grand final loss behind him by teaming up with Adam Doueihi to lead Lebanon into the knockout stages. Moses enjoyed a magnificent NRL season and his kicking game and vision will be critical to coach Michael Cheika’s game plan.
Strengths: A potential back five of Jacob Kiraz, who ran for 128 metres per game for the Bulldogs in 2022, former Origin and Test winger Josh Mansour, former Sea Eagle Abbas Miski, Raiders youngster Brandon Morkos and experienced wingman Reece Robinson, who boasts 57 tries in 120 NRL games.
Weaknesses: Plenty to like about the squad the Cedars have assembled after adding NRL stars to the team that downed Malta 30-14 at Belmore Sports Ground in June. Coach Michael Cheika was reportedly in tears as he watched on via live stream from Argentina where he was on Test duty with Los Pumas. Perhaps a little light on up front with Wests Tigers big man Alex Twal unavailable and that’s where they’ll find the going tough, especially against the Kiwis.
History at World Cup: The Cedars played at the 2000 and 2017 World Cups, making the quarter-finals five years ago, where they went down narrowly to Tonga in Christchurch.
A looping cut-out pass to set up New Zealand’s final try in their World Cup warm-up match against Leeds marked the final act in Thomas Leuluai’s 20-season professional career last Sunday morning.
The 40-Test Kiwi, who played 85 NRL games across two stints with the Warriors, in between a long career in the Super League, captained New Zealand to a 74-0 win in a one-off cameo after he announced his retirement from all levels of the game earlier this year.
As Thomas took the field one last time in Leeds, back in Auckland his family, including dad James, a Kiwi icon through the 1980s who last year revealed he has Alzheimer’s disease, gathered to watch.
Thomas’ younger brother MacGraff told NRL.com it was an emotional experience not only because of James’ health struggles, but given it also marked the first time since 1999 that the family won’t have a relative playing in either the NRL or Super League.
The family tree includes Phillip Leuluai (uncle to Thomas and MacGraff) and Kylie Leuluai (cousin), who both played in the NRL and Super League, while MacGraff spent 12 seasons with Leigh and Widnes in the UK.
“It’s been a bit tough with my old man, but he still remembers the stuff from the past and can still tell you stories about Thomas growing up,” MacGraff said.
“This game was emotional, especially seeing the haka at the end there that the guys did for Thomas.”
Five years Thomas’ junior, MacGraff recalls finding out the hard way that his brother could play well beyond his size, and being among the first to witness his bone-rattling tackle technique.
“We had a lot of backyard games and run it straight challenges, but I learned from a young age that Thomas could tackle hard,” MacGraff said.
“Growing up in New Zealand, it was often more about who could put on a big shot than who could score a try. You’d try and impress your cousins and that with a big hit.”
That ability in defence impressed Warriors great Stacey Jones when Thomas joined the NRL squad as a teenager in the early 2000s.
“When I first met him he was probably half the size of what he is now, a pimply, skinny-faced kid in a school uniform, rocking up to training with the first-grade side,” Jones told NRL.com.
“He worked really hard to become the player he is, but it also didn’t take him long.
“He matured real quick. From a scrawny little kid to a mature young man in the space of about six months.
“For a kid of that age, at that time, it was amazing.”
Within two months of making his first-grade debut as a 17-year-old in 2003, Leuluai became a permanent fixture in the halves alongside Jones, but departed for the UK the following year after only managing nine games, mostly off the bench.
After two seasons in London, he signed with Wigan and began a fruitful partnership which saw him rack up 325 games for the club, and he’ll now become their assistant coach.
Jones said it was clear during Leuluai’s second stint in Auckland with the Warriors, between 2013-16, that he was destined to be a coach one day.
“You could tell. His knowledge of the game, his smarts, it is right up there with players I have seen,” Jones said.
“He understands both parts of the game. Tommy is very clever upstairs when it comes to attacking footy, but his defensive knowledge is probably just as good too.”
Among his career achievements, Leuluai won the 2008 Rugby League World Cup with New Zealand, tasted Challenge Cup glory twice and won the Super League title on two occasions.
New Zealand head to the World Cup later this month as international rugby league’s top-ranked side, but coach Michael Maguire says history at the tournament means the Kangaroos still deserve to be favourites.
Having won their last three Tests, most recently against Tonga in June, the Kiwis have cemented their spot at the top of the world rankings, while Australia haven’t played a game since 2019 and are ranked fourth.
Maguire said while confidence is high within his squad, the Kangaroos, who have won the past two World Cups, “have the runs on the board” at the tournament.
“I believe [this Kiwis team can win it], yes,” Maguire said.
The belief amongst the team is really strong, I’m not going to shy away from that.
“The confidence comes from the journey that we have been on. We have spent a fair bit of time over the last two or three years coming together.
“We have got a big job ahead of us to be able to make sure that we maintain that over the journey of the World Cup, but the boys are in good position to be able to have some strong success here.
“The history tells they (Australia) are obviously the carriers of the World Cup over a long period of time.
“We’ve got some big opposition against us. I think it’s some of the other nations too, like Samoa and Tonga, they have definitely been able to get a lot of quality in there team, England, you can’t underestimate any team.”
Among the 24 players selected in Maguire’s final traveling squad are international newcomers Scott Sorensen, Jeremy Marshall-King and Sebastian Kris.
Kris enjoyed a strong finish to 2022 as part of the Canberra Raiders’ left edge, and across the NRL season scored 14 tries.
With Joseph Manu locked in as the fullback, Maguire hinted that Kris was the frontrunner to fill the vacant centre spot, which Warriors-bound forward Marata Niukore occupied against Tonga.
“Left centre, we played Marata there, but we think Marata is probably more suited to that middle type role,” Maguire said.
“I think he’s found a home in the middle there. But what he can do is play middle, edge and centre. It gives a great opportunity to have someone like that on the bench that can cover quite a number of positions.
“Someone like Seb has played a lot on that left edge and I thought he started to really find his game at the back end of the season.
“I think the upside of Seb is enormous…. the last month, the games that he played and experience he got out of the finals was really important.”
The Kiwis will play a warm up match against Super League side the Leeds Rhinos on October 8 (UK time) before kicking off their World Cup campaign against Lebanon later this month.
Leeds v Kiwis available to stream here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuhXSy_OCvE KO 6am NZT Sunday 9 October
By Corey Rosser NRL.com
Leeds, New Zealand, October 5, 2022 – Thomas Leulaui will be surrounded by former New Zealand teammates when he ends his decorated 20-season career leading the Kiwis in their Rugby League World Cup warm-up match against the Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on Saturday (6.00pm kick-off local time; 6.00am Sunday NZT).
After Leuluai announced his decision to retire at the end of the 2022 Super League season, Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire invited the 37-year-old to finish his playing days with a poignant final appearance in the New Zealand jersey.
Maguire has named a powerful line-up including 10 players who were Kiwi teammates during Leuluai’s 40-Test career from 2003-2017 – Jordan Rapana, Peta Hiku, Kieran Foran, Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kenny Bromwich, Isaac Liu, Joseph Tapine, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Dean Whare.
Making their New Zealand debuts will be Canberra centre Sebastian Kris and Canterbury Bankstown hooker Jeremy Marshall-King plus Willie Isa, the ex-Toa Samoa international. The 32-year-old joins his Wigan teammate Leuluai and 2012-2017 Kiwi Whare – now with Les Catalans – as one of the three Super League guest players.
The Kiwis will be without the suspended Jared Waerea-Hargreaves plus fullback Joseph Manu. Also not considered were Penrith’s NRL premiership-winning trio James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen as well as Parramatta’s beaten grand finalists Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore. They’re due to join the squad in Leeds on Saturday in time to watch the game.
Saturday’s occasion reprises the 2015 Headingley encounter between the Kiwis and Leeds when the Rhinos emotionally farewelled New Zealanders Ali Lauitiiti and Kylie Leuluai in a game the visitors won 34-16.
This time not only will the Kiwis give Leuluai a special farewell but the Rhinos will also do the same for one of their fan favourites Adam Cuthbertson (37), who has finished his career after more than 300 appearances in the NRL and the Super League.
Leuluai has made almost 500 top level appearances including his 40 Tests, more than 330 games for Wigan and 85 in two stints with the Vodafone Warriors after starting out with the club as a 17-year-old in 2003.
Saturday’s match further cements a link between the two opponents and the famous Headingley ground which now dates back 115 years. It was on October 26, 1907, that the trailblazing All Golds beat Leeds 8-2 in the first of 12 matches between two. New Zealand holds an 11-1 winning advantage.
Spark Sport has today announced that Warner Bros. Discovery will be the New Zealand free-to-air partner for Rugby League World Cup 2021 which takes place from 15 October to 19 November 2022 in England.
New Zealanders will be able to access all 61 matches across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments exclusively live and on-demand on Spark Sport while delayed coverage of all Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns matches will be available on Three and ThreeNow.
Rugby League World Cup 2021 is the pinnacle event in international rugby league and will see the 15 wheelchair matches played alongside the men’s (16 nations) and the women’s (eight nations) tournaments and broadcast live for the first time.
Head of Spark Sport, Jeff Latch says: “We’re thrilled to make our debut as New Zealand’s exclusive broadcast rights holder for RLWC2021 and we’re looking forward to working alongside the team at Three to make the tournament as accessible as possible for league fans here.
“In 2017, we saw the enormous fanfare for the Pacific Nations, particularly Tonga as their men’s team made their way to a World Cup semi-final for the first time in the team’s history and I’m sure Tongan fans will be eagerly waiting to see what their team can achieve this year – flags and all.
“League fans will be able to start their day with a dose of World Cup action as the majority of matches conveniently hit New Zealand live in the morning.
“We look forward to bringing all 61 matches of the World Cup magic to rugby league fans all around Aotearoa come 15 October.”
Juliet Peterson, Senior Director Content ANZ, Warner Bros. Discovery says: “We’re incredibly excited to be expanding our sports offering on Three and ThreeNow through our continued partnership with Spark Sport. As the free-to-air broadcaster of Rugby League World Cup 2021 we’re so proud to be supporting our men’s and women’s teams and bringing Aotearoa’s sports fans more of the action they love.”
To catch all 61 matches of the RLWC2021 live on Spark Sport, visit sparksport.co.nz.
Matches free-to-air on Three include:
(if Kiwis feature)
Note: Quarter-Final and Semi-Final matches which feature the Kiwis will be delayed on Three. If the Kiwis are successful in reaching the final, Three will also show this match delayed.
Note: A Semi-Final match featuring the Kiwi Ferns will be delayed on Three. If the Kiwi Ferns are successful in reaching the final, Three will also show this match delayed.
6 September 2022
as seen on stuff.co.nz
As the finals loom around the corner, plenty of Kiwi talent headline the knockout rounds in their respective teams.
The Melbourne Storm boast five Kiwis test regulars, brothers Jesse and Kenneath Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith for their sudden-death clash with the Raiders on Saturday.
Parramatta will field four New Zealanders against the champion Panthers.
Ricky Stuart’s Canberra Raiders also have five Kiwis
The Roosters are likely to lose boom Kiwis back Joseph Manu to a calf injury for their elimination game against the Rabbitohs, but the club is confident teak-tough prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will shrug off a hamstring problem.
With 24 potential Kiwis spread across the finals squads, national coach Michael Maguire could be forgiven for watching behind splayed fingers this week as he seeks to firm up his squad for the Rugby League World Cup in England in October and November.
NEW ZEALANDERS IN THE NRL PLAYOFFS
(List includes those potentially under New Zealand consideration for the 2022 Rugby League World Cup)
PANTHERS v EELS
Friday September 9
First Qualifying Final at BlueBet Stadium, Penrith, 9.50pm (NZT)
PENRITH (seeded first)
James Fisher-Harris: The hardman from the Hokianga made his 150th NRL appearance this season and is still 26. The 2021 Team of the Year selection’s go-forward is critical for the champions through the middle.
Moses Leota: The 27-year-old prop made his Kiwis bow in June, but has also represented Samoa. Highly valued by Ivan Cleary, he was rested last week to keep him fresh for the finals.
Scott Sorensen: His uncles Dane and Kurt were star Kiwis forwards in the 70s and 80s and, at 29, he’s been a handy utility forward in 20 games this term.
Dylan Brown: Red-hot favourite for the Kiwis’ standoff berth at the Rugby League World Cup. Has 11 tries in 24 games and forged a fine halves pairing with Mitchell Moses.
Isaiah Papali’i: A revelation at Parramatta since leaving the Warriors and a second rower of the year in 2021. Ten tries in 24 games in 2022 ahead of a planned move to Wests Tigers.
Bailey Simonsson: The former All Black sevens rep has chalked up three tries in 18 games at the Eels but hasn’t played since round 19.
Marata Niukore: The Warriors-bound second rower who made his Kiwis debut in June, has played 14 games and been a regular since July.
Saturday September 10
STORM V RAIDERS
First Elimination Final at AAMI Park, Melbourne, 7.40pm.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona: The six-test 2m tall middle forward from Wellington has built a reputation as a NRL enforcer – just ask Kiwi teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Jesse Bromwich: The Storm co-captain is closing in on 300 games for Melbourne ahead of a Queensland move to the Dolphins. 2016 NRL prop of the year.
Kenneath Bromwich: Much-respected left edge forward will also be keen to go out a winner at the Storm before he also heads to play for Wayne Bennett.
Jahrome Hughes: Likely to be the Kiwis’ World Cup playmaker. Twelve tries in 20 games this year but has had a recent shoulder injury.
Brandon Smith: The Kiwis’ best hooker since Issac Luke. Injuries and suspension for referee abuse aside, the Waiheke Islander has still managed 19 valuable appearances at hooker or off the interchange bench.
Corey Harawira-Naera: A versatile forward who has thrived under Ricky Stuart. Played six of the last seven games off the bench, but had a full 80 minutes in the second row last week.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad: Last Canberra chance for Charnze? Equally adept at centre or fullback, he’s heading home to the Warriors in 2023.
Jordan Rapana: The 11-test veteran winger is still scoring NRL tries at 33, and is a part-time goalkicker too. Dally M winger of the year in 2018.
Joseph Tapine: The Māori All Stars skipper is one of the first names on the Kiwis team sheet and was hailed by Raiders teammate Tom Starling as the best forward in the NRL.
Matthew Timoko: The former Auckland Grammar School 1st XV star impressed with his powerful running and cemented his spot as a starting centre, after making his NRL debut in 2020.
SHARKS V COWBOYS
Second Qualifying Final at PointsBet Stadium, Cronulla, 9.50pm.
Braden Hamlin-Uele: A big finals series could put the Cronulla frontrower in contention for the Kiwis after a sole test in 2019.
Ronaldo Mulitalo: Electric wing who made his Kiwis debut against Tonga is sixth on the 2022 top try scorers charts with 15 in 22 games.
Briton Nikora: Earned a test recall in 2022 and is now a first-choice in the Sharks’ second row under ex-Kangaroos forward Craig Fitzgibbon.
Peta Hiku: Yet another who has blossomed after leaving the Warriors. Has added experience and guile to the Cowboys centres with Valentine Holmes and seems set for the World Cup.
Griffin Neame: The West Coast’s first NRL regular since current Warriors coaching assistant Slade Griffin has impressed in Todd Payten’s pack and earned a new two-year deal.
Sunday September 11
ROOSTERS V RABBITOHS
Second Elimination Final, at Allianz Stadium, Sydney, 4.05pm
Joseph Manu: Starred for the Kiwis at fullback against Tonga and one of the best backs in the NRL, but unlikely to play again this season after a calf injury last weekend.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves: A three-time NRL champion who remains one of game’s most combative props. Fighting to be over a hamstring injury in time to battle Souths.
Kodi Nikorima: One of only two 2022 Warriors to make the playoffs (Roosters prop Matt Lodge is the other). His mid-season move has led to an interchange berth at Souths. Headed for the Dolphins.
19 November 2021
In exactly one year’s time, the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup in history will reach its thrilling climax in a showpiece weekend in Manchester featuring the wheelchair final followed by the double-header men’s and women’s final at Old Trafford.
Today (November 19) Rugby League World Cup 2021 tournament organisers have confirmed the full revised 61 match schedule for the tournament in 2022.
Five weeks of world-class sporting action begins at St James’ Park, Newcastle on October 15 before Headingley Stadium, Leeds opens the women’s tournament on November 1 and a double-header at the iconic Copper Box, London kicks off the wheelchair event on November 3. Full schedule is available here.
Only five RLWC2021 fixtures (four match-days) have been affected during the rescheduling of 61 matches staged at 21 iconic venues, across 18 host towns and cities. These changes involve the switching of two fixtures between existing venues in Leeds and Hull and the relocation of fixtures from Anfield Stadium and M&S Bank Arena.
In the men’s tournament there will be one venue swap with the match between Australia and Fiji on the opening day (October 15) now taking place at Headingley Stadium, Leeds due to a clash with another event in Hull. In return, the MKM Stadium, Hull will now host New Zealand v Jamaica in Group C on October 22 – a fixture that was due to be played in Leeds.
Wigan’s DW Stadium will provide the stage for the double-header which features the second men’s quarter-final as well as England women v Canada women on November 5.
Manchester will create further sporting history by hosting all three tournament finals over a weekend of global Rugby League celebration. Manchester Central in the heart of the city centre will now host the wheelchair final on November 18. The following day (November 19) the showpiece men’s and women’s double-header final will take place at Old Trafford, Manchester.
All 32 teams across the 21 competing nations participating in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments have fully committed to the revised tournament schedule in 2022.
General admission tickets and hospitality for all 61 matches will be back on-sale from 9am GMT today in line with the full schedule reveal. Tickets can be purchased via: www.rlwc2021.com/tickets
Fans who have already purchased tickets for fixtures that have been changed will be contacted with information on their options from November 24. A dedicated refund window will be available from then until November 30.
Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive Officer, said:
“We have achieved our objective in delivering minimal disruption to the existing 61-match schedule and I want to place on record my thanks to all those who have made it possible.
“Every host town and city who joined us on this journey remains involved and they will set the stage for the very best that the sport has to offer. There are world class, compelling matches, across all three tournaments at some of the most iconic venues across England.
“We are delighted to make tickets available to purchase again and supporters can now look forward to being part of this unique global event. With match dates and locations confirmed, the excitement will only intensify as we look to the horizon and the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup.”
SCHEDULE AND TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM 19 NOVEMBER
The road to the rescheduled Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) officially begins today (15 November) as organisers confirm the 61-match schedule will be revealed in full on Friday 19 November at 9am GMT.
In recent weeks, organisers have worked collaboratively with all tournament partners to finalise the 61-match schedule which will kick off at St James’ Park, Newcastle on 15 October 2022 when England men take on Samoa men. The tournament will then culminate in spectacular fashion at Old Trafford, Manchester on 19 November 2022 with the men’s and women’s double-header final.
In a unique and busy year of international sport and events, staged both domestically and overseas, only five RLWC2021 fixtures (four match-days) have been affected during the rescheduling of 61 matches staged at 21 iconic venues, across 18 host towns and cities.
These changes are the switching of two fixtures between existing venues and the movement of two events to alternative venues.
Despite collective best efforts this has resulted in the disappointing loss of both Anfield Stadium and the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool from the schedule due to the Anfield Road expansion and prior commitments respectively. However, Liverpool will still play a key role during the tournament with the city providing the training bases for Italy and Tonga. The details of the venue switch and replacement venues will be revealed this Friday, 19 November.
All 32 teams across the 21 competing nations participating in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments have fully committed to the tournament in 2022. In addition, organisers can also confirm the re-introduction of the Physical Disability Rugby League World Cup, hosted in Warrington, which will welcome Ireland as a sixth participant.
General admission tickets and hospitality for all 61 matches will be back on-sale from 9am on 19 November in line with the full schedule reveal. For all the latest tournament news and ticket information sign up: rlwc2021.com/signup
Fans who have purchased tickets for the small number of revised fixtures will be contacted with information on what will happen next with their tickets. A dedicated refund window will be available from Wednesday 24 November to request refunds.
In unprecedented coverage in the UK, the BBC have reaffirmed that every minute of all 61 RLWC2021 matches will be shown live and free across their platforms.
“For everyone involved in this trailblazing tournament, today is a very important and exciting milestone on our journey to 2022.
“We have suffered a setback, but since that moment in August we have dedicated all our energy towards rebuilding.
“A huge amount of work has gone in behind the scenes and thanks to so many people we have the opportunity to deliver a bigger and better tournament next autumn.
“I want to thank all partners, in particular the UK Government, our broadcast and commercial partners, the administrators of the competing nations for their full commitment, as well as our host towns, cities and venues for providing the perfect stage for the best players in world to shine.
“I also want to extend a special thanks to the incredible number of loyal fans who held onto their tickets and have continued to support this event that will see the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments take place simultaneously for the first time ever.”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, said:
“Rugby league means so much to many people across the country, so I’m delighted
the Rugby League World Cup is on track to kick off next autumn.
“The UK has a strong record of hosting major international sporting events and this will be
another fantastic opportunity to showcase our towns and cities, and to inspire our young
people to get involved in sport.
“The Government is a keen supporter of rugby league, and we absolutely can’t wait to host
the world’s best teams in what is set to be a bumper year of sport and culture in 2022.”
Troy Grant, IRL Chairman, added:
“Everyone appreciates that international Rugby League has a huge part to play in the future growth of the sport and the tournament is something the world of Rugby League can now look forward to with great excitement.”
“The IRL would like to thank RLWC2021 Chair Chris Brindley and CEO Jon Dutton as well as the wider RLWC2021 team for the thorough and time effective response to postponement and with the full schedule to come this week players, administrators and fans can start to plan their role in creating sporting history.”
Tuesday, 9th February.
Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC 2021) celebrated Waitangi Day by unveiling New Zealand legend Honey Hireme-Smiler MNZM as an International Ambassador.
Hireme-Smiler is regarded as a women’s Rugby League all-time great, representing the Kiwi Ferns in 32 tests’ over 18 seasons, which included four World Cups. As well as being named in the NRL.com’s Women’s Rugby League Team of the Decade (2010s) Honey was also appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the sport.
Although she hung up her boots in 2020, Honey has continued to represent the sport in various roles from coaching women and girls’ teams, commentary for Sky Sport NZ, advisor for inclusion in sport for people with disabilities and advocating for the growth of the game through various guest speaking roles.
Announced today on Waitangi Day, the national day of New Zealand, Hireme-Smiler has been brought into the RLWC2021 ambassador squad to spread the values and messages of the tournament internationally, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere.
Honey joins dual-code legend Jason Robinson OBE as an International Ambassador, adding to the respected squad of RLWC2021 ambassadors Adam Hills, James Simpson, Jodie Cunningham, Kevin Sinfield, Lois Forsell, Luke Gale, Oliver Thomasson and Robbie Hunter-Paul.
Commenting on the partnership, Honey said: “The growth of the World Cup since my first tournament in 2003 has been incredible, and the plans for 2021 will no doubt give the women’s game the perfect platform to continue that global growth. The three tournaments, men’s, women’s and wheelchair, being staged at the same time is already monumental in the sports history so I can’t wait to help spread the word in my new role.”
Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of RLWC2021, said: “Honey has been a trailblazer for women’s sport and we’re over the moon she’s going to help represent the tournament as our latest International Ambassador.
“Inclusivity is at the core of our values as a tournament and Honey will be an ideal voice to positively promote what will be the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup in history.”
Follow all the latest news via www.RLWC2021.com and the official social media channels on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
The Rugby League World Cup 2021 tournament organisers have today revealed the much-anticipated fixture schedule for what promises to be the biggest and best World Cup in the history of the sport, as the men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams all compete at the same time in a major sporting first.
New Zealand’s men’s and women’s side will be competing in RLWC2021.
The full fixture list for New Zealand is as follows:
In June, it was revealed that New Zealand’s men’s and women’s sides will be using York as their team training base.
Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive, said: “This is a huge moment for the tournament and for millions of fans around the world as we reveal the full fixture schedule.
“The tournament has been gaining momentum over recent months and global fans can now look forward to being part of this unique sporting event. With match dates and locations confirmed, the excitement will only intensify.
“RLWC2021 will bring together the very best that the sport has to offer, and you can see from the schedule that there is no end of world class, not-to-be-missed matches, across all three tournaments.
“We can’t wait to welcome all our competing nations and their fans to England next autumn for the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup to date.”
With 61 fixtures over a six-week period the tournament will showcase a festival of world class sporting action. The dates, venues and kick-off times for each of the three tournaments is now confirmed and available to view below and at www.RLWC2021.com
Please visit www.RLWC2021.com for more information, for details on how to sign up to receive ticket alerts and all the latest news first.