Almanac Rugby League – Australia v New Zealand Test matches

Rugby league aficionados get an end of season reprise on Saturday afternoon with the clash of the code’s world powerhouses across all three official teams – juniors, women and men. And, for possibly the first time, all of them, consecutively, on the same day at the same venue. What’s not to like about that?


The Junior Kangaroos are first up at 12.05pm. Both teams feature a smattering of early-career NRL players with the Kangaroos probably having a slight edge in experience. Zac Lomax (Dragons), Jake Clifford (Cowboys) and Kotoni Staggs (Broncos) are the most recognisable names in the Aussie line-up. For the Kiwis, Isaiah Papali’i has 25 matches for the Warriors under his belt while Mawene Hiroti (Rabbitohs) and Joseph Vuna (Warriors) have also played at senior level in the NRL. Players from both squads will be looking to push their cases for future contracts, so expect this to be a ding dong battle from the get-go.


The Jillaroos and the Ferns are expected to put on a fast, skilful and entertaining exhibition when they take to the field at 2.05pm. Many of these girls played in the recent NRLW competition – and we know what a fine display they gave there! Now they’re scattered between their national teams, so former club team-mates find themselves opposed at international level. The Jillaroos appear to have greater depth across the respective squads: Baker, Kelly, Brown, Briggenshaw, Breayley, Apps, Hancock for starters and then up-and-comers like Robinson and Sergis. But you can’t discount the Kiwis’ Nicholls, Hireme, Feterika, Nati, Arakua and Fotu-Moala. It should be quite a clash! I expect it to be fast, furious and full-on.


The big boys strut their stuff from 4.45pm. The Kangaroos have a fresh look about them following the representative retirement of the likes of Smith, Cronk, Slater and co as well as the unavailability of Inglis (self-inflicted!). But those departures allow exciting new possibilities in the shape of Tedesco, Mitchell, Cook and Keary. Throw in the experienced Cordner, Klemmer, McGuire, Frizell and Woods and you come up with a potentially strong blend. The Kiwis have their own new look in the backs through Maumalo, Marsters and Manu and a couple up front as well in Smith, Liu and Fisher-Harris. Then there are old hardheads like Bromwich, JWH, Proctor and Johnson so, again, we have an interesting blend. Rightly or wrongly, the Kangaroos almost always seem to start as favourites but history shows that the Kiwis are only too happy to give them a bit of a touch-up from time to time. Will this be one of those occasions?


So fire up the barbie one more time, organise a couple mates to come and share a few coldies, sit back and enjoy the show.



Ian Hauser never played sport at international level other than in his dreams! But his editing service does accept international clients. They should feel free to check him out here.



About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at

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