June 15, 2022
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has named a 25-man wider squad to travel home to Aotearoa to face Pacific rivals Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium on June 25.
Eight of the squad are potential Kiwi debutants, including Ellerslie Eagles junior Ronaldo Mulitalo (Cronulla Sutherland) who leads the NRL with 20 line-breaks and Eels playmaker Dylan Brown who has six tries, seven try assists, five line break assists, nine line breaks and 46 tackle breaks in 13 games this season.
Other new faces are Panthers duo Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen, both instrumental in Penrith’s dominance over the last three seasons. Vodafone Warriors-bound Parramatta back rower Marata Niukore joins the fray, as does Gold Coast hooker Erin Clark.
Former Junior Kiwi teammates Griffin Neame (Cowboys) and Jordan Riki (Broncos) enter the Kiwis’ frame and Broncos fullback Te Maire Martin receives a recall after his impressive return to the NRL this season. The last of Martin’s four internationals was Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire’s first Test in charge against England in Denver four years ago.
Unsurprisingly, 2021 Dally M Team of the Year members James Fisher-Harris (Penrith) and Isaiah Papali’i (Parramatta) have cemented their spots in the squad. Tigers-bound Papali’i has averaged 155 metres a game to add to his five tries while Fisher-Harris consistently shows why he’s one of the best front-rowers in the game.
The versatile Joey Manu (Sydney Roosters) is named alongside Melbourne’s cohort of playmakers, Jahrome Hughes, Brandon Smith, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny.
Leading the NRL with 964 post-contact metres, Canberra forward Joseph Tapine has been a season standout. He joins Canberra teammate Jordan Rapana and in-form Cowboys centre Peta Hiku who returns to the Kiwi squad after last touring in 2018.
“I know how much the black and white jersey means to these players,” said Maguire.
“To finally return home after two years and play for your country in front of fans and whānau, this Test will be special.
“This squad has an exciting mix of fresh talent and experienced Kiwis having some of their best seasons. We have a strong spine of leaders throughout the group that play a crucial role in the team, especially with these new boys coming through.
“Some difficult decisions have had to be made, but it’s a positive sign of our depth in certain positions. With the quality of Kiwi talent on display throughout the NRL, we are in a strong place as we look to build a solid foundation ahead of the Rugby League World Cup come October.”
For tickets to Kiwis v MMT, June 25th at Mt Smart Stadium, please click here.
3:10pm NZT Kiwi Ferns v Tonga
5:20pm NZT Kiwis v MMT
June 14, 2022
In anticipation of the June 25th New Zealand v Tonga double header, NZRL and Tonga Rugby League will host ‘Coming Together’ – Whakakotahi | Fakatahataha, 4:00pm Wednesday 22nd June at Otahuhu Rugby League Club.
This community event celebrates the return of rugby league to Aotearoa’s shores as the teams unite with fans before doing battle next Saturday at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.
Fans are encouraged to get down to Otahuhu Rugby League club to see their favourite players and win a bunch of cool MMT, Kiwis & Kiwi Ferns prizes.
NZRL will announce which players will be in attendance next week.
Due to strict NRL covid protocols, unfortunately, there can be no direct player and fan interaction e.g, photos with players or signing sessions. However, fans can have a front-row seat to our own NZ v Mate Ma’a Tonga footy show with endless prizes and signed merch to giveaway.
Get down to Otahuhu Rugby League club next Wednesday afternoon to see your Kiwis, Kiwi Ferns and Mate Ma’a Tonga Men and Women, and be a part of all the action as we celebrate the return of Test match rugby league to Aotearoa.
Coming Together – Whakakotahi | Fakatahataha is supported by the Local Activation Fund Programme and/or Discount Programme, administered by Auckland Unlimited on behalf of the New Zealand Government.
Whakakotahi | Fakatahataha
Wednesday, June 22
Otahuhu Rugby League Club
From 3:30pm – 5:00pm