Triple header of international rugby league for Wollongong

Wollongong's WIN Stadium will host an international triple header on Friday with the green and gold sides facing the might of New Zealand and France.

The action kicks off with the Junior Kangaroos, now playing as the official Australia A side, up against France at 3.10pm before the Jillaroos take on the Kiwi Ferns at 5.40pm and the Kangaroos tackling the Kiwis at 8.10pm.

Here's all you need to know for all three games.

Australia v France

Even though this squad is just the Junior Kangaroos, some of Australia's stacked line-up wouldn't look out of place in the Test team.

The Junior Kangaroos age limit was increased from under 20s to 23s this year to establish a clearer pathway to Test selection, with coach Neil Henry dubbing his troops "a genuine Australia A side".

France had a hit-out at the World Cup 9s last weekend, winning one of four matches.

The Rundown

Junior Kangaroos: Newcastle scrapped Kalyn Ponga's five-eighth experiment early in the season but he'll get another shot in the No.6 jersey here. The electric Ryan Papenhuyzen will play fullback instead. David Fifita has been named captain, with Brodie Croft as his deputy.

France: Captain Jason Baitieri sensationally quit the team on Monday, citing a "lack of professionalism" from the higher-ups in the national system. Wigan prop Romain Navarrete has been named the new skipper of a team light on for Super League experience.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Junior Kangaroos is number 1 Ryan Papenhuyzen
    Fullback for France is number 1 Thomas Lasvenes
  • Winger for Junior Kangaroos is number 2 Campbell Graham
    Winger for France is number 2 Gavin Marguerite
  • Centre for Junior Kangaroos is number 3 Brian Kelly
    Centre for France is number 3 Arthur Romano
  • Centre for Junior Kangaroos is number 4 Zac Lomax
    Centre for France is number 4 Vincent Albert
  • Winger for Junior Kangaroos is number 5 Reuben Garrick
    Winger for France is number 5 Paul Marcon
  • Five-Eighth for Junior Kangaroos is number 6 Kalyn Ponga
    Five-Eighth for France is number 6 Hakim Miloudi
  • Halfback for Junior Kangaroos is number 7 Brodie Croft
    Halfback for France is number 7 Lucas Albert

Forwards

  • Prop for Junior Kangaroos is number 8 Corey Horsburgh
    Prop for France is number 8 Maxime Puech
  • Hooker for Junior Kangaroos is number 9 Reed Mahoney
    Hooker for France is number 9 Charles Bouzinac
  • Prop for Junior Kangaroos is number 10 Thomas Flegler
    Prop for France is number 10 Lambert Belmas
  • 2nd Row for Junior Kangaroos is number 11 David Fifita
    2nd Row for France is number 11 Paul Seguier
  • 2nd Row for Junior Kangaroos is number 12 Angus Crichton
    2nd Row for France is number 12 Jordan Dezaria
  • Lock for Junior Kangaroos is number 13 Victor Radley
    Lock for France is number 13 Romain Navarrete

Interchange

  • Interchange for Junior Kangaroos is number 14 Alexander Brimson
    Interchange for France is number 14 Mathieu Jussaume
  • Interchange for Junior Kangaroos is number 15 Nat Butcher
    Interchange for France is number 15 Bastien Canet
  • Interchange for Junior Kangaroos is number 16 Emre Guler
    Interchange for France is number 16 Arnaud Bartes
  • Interchange for Junior Kangaroos is number 17 Tino Faasuamaleaui
    Interchange for France is number 17 Justin Sangare

Key players

The 19-year-old Fifita's appointment as skipper could be the clearest sign yet that he's on the cusp of Test selection.

The young Bronco was outstanding for Australia in the World Cup 9s - and Meninga confirmed he would come under consideration to play Tonga next weekend.

Elsewhere, NSW Origin forward Angus Crichton will be hard to contain in the second row, back-to-back premiership winner Victor Radley should bring his usual toughness and skill at lock, while Ponga, Papenhuyzen and AJ Brimson loom as game-breakers.

For the Kangaroos to win

The backs might receive the spoils on the scoreboard, but Australia's fearsome forward pack hold the keys here. If the big men can get the rucks rolling, the speedsters will cause serious headaches.

Stat attack

Between them, the Junior Kangaroos' top 17 have 616 NRL games. Crichton leads the pack with 81, while Melbourne back-rower Tino Fa'asuamaleaui has the least experience on five first-grade appearances.

And another thing...

Radley, Fa'asuamaleaui, Zac Lomax, Emre Guler, Thomas Flegler and Gehamat Shibasaki played in last year's Junior Kangaroos (under-20s) team that beat New Zealand 40-24 at Mt Smart Stadium.

Australia v New Zealand women's Test

The Kiwi Ferns' upset win over the Jillaroos in the World Cup 9s final sets up an intriguing rematch in the longer form of the game at WIN Stadium on Friday night.

A total of 29 players set to play in the Test (14 for Australia, 15 for New Zealand) took part in the Nines less than a week ago with no love lost between the two nations following reports not a lot of hand-shaking took place after the final.

Kiwi Ferns centre Jules Newman delivered the first barb with a couple of heated exchanges towards Jillaroos players in the final and later labelled the Australians as cocky.

The Jillaroos haven't lost a Test match against the Kiwi Ferns since 2016 but were left chasing a win in the corresponding game last year with a late try through Australian centre Isabelle Kelly stealing a see-sawing 26-24 contest in Auckland.

Another close encounter is on the cards with the Kiwi Ferns closing the gap created by the Australians in recent years. 

The Rundown

Team News

Match: Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns

Round 2 -

Full Time
Jillaroos

Home Team

Jillaroos

Scored 28 points
Kiwi Ferns

Away Team

Kiwi Ferns

Scored 8 points

Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong

Match broadcasters:

  • GEM
  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

Jillaroos: Simaima Taufa is in doubt with an ankle injury picked up in the NRLW. Caitlan Johnston, Julia Robinson and Tiana Penitani joined the squad as cover this week.

Kiwi Ferns: Lavinia Gould withdrew from the squad due to personal reasons with Kanyon Paul called in as a replacement. Dragons forward Maitua Feterika also joined the squad as cover for Aieshaleigh Smalley, who has an ankle concern.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Jillaroos is number 1 Corban McGregor
    Fullback for Kiwi Ferns is number 1 Apii Nicholls
  • Winger for Jillaroos is number 2 Tiana Penitani
    Winger for Kiwi Ferns is number 2 Kiana Takairangi
  • Centre for Jillaroos is number 3 Jessica Sergis
    Centre for Kiwi Ferns is number 3 Honey Hireme
  • Centre for Jillaroos is number 4 Isabelle Kelly
    Centre for Kiwi Ferns is number 4 Jules Newman
  • Winger for Jillaroos is number 5 Shakiah Tungai
    Winger for Kiwi Ferns is number 5 Atawhai Tupaea
  • Five-Eighth for Jillaroos is number 6 Kirra Dibb
    Five-Eighth for Kiwi Ferns is number 6 Charntay Poko
  • Halfback for Jillaroos is number 7 Ali Brigginshaw
    Halfback for Kiwi Ferns is number 7 Raecene McGregor

Forwards

  • Prop for Jillaroos is number 8 Simaima Taufa
    Prop for Kiwi Ferns is number 8 Annetta Nuuausala
  • Hooker for Jillaroos is number 9 Keeley Davis
    Hooker for Kiwi Ferns is number 9 Krystal Rota
  • Prop for Jillaroos is number 10 Millie Boyle
    Prop for Kiwi Ferns is number 10 Amber Hall
  • 2nd Row for Jillaroos is number 11 Kezie Apps
    2nd Row for Kiwi Ferns is number 11 Onjeurlina Leiataua
  • 2nd Row for Jillaroos is number 12 Annette Brander
    2nd Row for Kiwi Ferns is number 12 Crystal Tamarua
  • Lock for Jillaroos is number 13 Hannah Southwell
    Lock for Kiwi Ferns is number 13 Georgia Hale

Interchange

  • Interchange for Jillaroos is number 14 Botille Vette-Welsh
    Interchange for Kiwi Ferns is number 14 Nita Maynard
  • Interchange for Jillaroos is number 15 Chelsea Lenarduzzi
    Interchange for Kiwi Ferns is number 15 Teuila Fotu-Moala
  • Interchange for Jillaroos is number 16 Holli Wheeler
    Interchange for Kiwi Ferns is number 16 Billy-Jean Ale
  • Interchange for Jillaroos is number 17 Tallisha Harden
    Interchange for Kiwi Ferns is number 17 Maitua Feterika

Key match-up

Dally M medallist Jess Sergis will have her hands full marking Honey Hireme-Smiler, one of the best players in the world, despite a breakout season of her own to claim best player honours in the recent NRLW competition. Hireme-Smiler missed the NRLW season due to her mother's passing and the time spent away ensures the Kiwi Ferns superstar has fresh legs for an 80-minute game.

For the Jillaroos to win

They'll need to find enough muscle in the middle to match the Kiwi Ferns forward pack. The international retirement of Heather Ballinger and omissions of experienced forwards Elianna Walton and Stephanie Hancock leave a void in the engine room. There will be a heavy reliance on emerging forwards Millie Boyle and Chelsea Lenarduzzi to fill the void.

For the Kiwi Ferns to win

They need to stay aggressive. Their performance in the Nines final – albeit a shortened format – was a style that seemed to rattle the Jillaroos. Their forward pack is the strongest it's been for some time and the balance in the halves with ball-playing forward Georgia Hale at lock gives them options they haven't had in recent times.

Stat attack

The Jillaroos had nine extra carries out of dummy half for an additional 173 metres in an otherwise evenly-poised corresponding game last year. This area of the field will be crucial given there is no Brittany Breayley for the Australians this time around, while the Kiwi Ferns have Krystal Rota and Nita Maynard rotating around the ruck.

And another thing...

Only 10 players remain from each nation since last year's corresponding Test match in October, indicating a changing of the guard continues for both sides. Fatigue is expected to be a factor late with temperatures in the mid-30s predicted during the day in Wollongong.

Australia v New Zealand men's Test

It has been more than a year since these trans-Tasman rivals met but Australia's 26-24 loss in Auckland in 2018 is still very much in the forefront of their minds - just ask Damien Cook.

It was his maiden appearance in the famous green-and-gold jersey, so there's an itch he wants to scratch against the Kiwis on Friday night in Wollongong.

In the past two seasons the scorecard reads a win each. And in the last five Tests against all oppositions, Australia have a 4-1 record with New Zealand enjoying a 3-2 win-loss record. 

So in other words, this is another close confrontation between two well-coached, highly talented teams.

Only a conversion separated them before, so Latrell Mitchell's kicking boot could come to the fore this time around, after it was Valentine Holmes doing the kicking a year ago. 

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire is on a roll in his new position. He's going for a hat-trick of Test victories after snaring the final match in the series against England (34-0) last November,  then the mid-season Pacific Test against Tonga (34-14) in June.  

Match: Australia v New Zealand

Round 2 -

Full Time
Australia

Home Team

Australia

Scored 26 points
New Zealand

Away Team

New Zealand

Scored 4 points

Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Foxtel
  • GEM

The Rundown

Team News

Kangaroos: Josh Papalii (rib) has been cleared after passing his fitness test at training on Thursday. Rabbitohs forward Cameron Murray will be Australia's 18th man. 

Kiwis: Roosters lock Isaac Lui (knee) is out with Adam Blair coming into the starting side at lock.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Australia is number 1 James Tedesco
    Fullback for New Zealand is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
  • Winger for Australia is number 2 Josh Addo-Carr
    Winger for New Zealand is number 2 Ken Maumalo
  • Centre for Australia is number 3 Latrell Mitchell
    Centre for New Zealand is number 3 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
  • Centre for Australia is number 4 Jack Wighton
    Centre for New Zealand is number 4 Joseph Manu
  • Winger for Australia is number 5 Nick Cotric
    Winger for New Zealand is number 5 Jamayne Isaako
  • Five-Eighth for Australia is number 6 Cameron Munster
    Five-Eighth for New Zealand is number 6 Shaun Johnson
  • Halfback for Australia is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
    Halfback for New Zealand is number 7 Benji Marshall

Forwards

  • Prop for Australia is number 8 Josh Papalii
    Prop for New Zealand is number 8 Leeson Ah Mau
  • Hooker for Australia is number 9 Damien Cook
    Hooker for New Zealand is number 9 Brandon Smith
  • Prop for Australia is number 10 David Klemmer
    Prop for New Zealand is number 10 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
  • 2nd Row for Australia is number 11 Boyd Cordner
    2nd Row for New Zealand is number 11 Briton Nikora
  • 2nd Row for Australia is number 12 Tyson Frizell
    2nd Row for New Zealand is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich
  • Lock for Australia is number 13 Jake Trbojevic
    Lock for New Zealand is number 13 Adam Blair

Interchange

  • Interchange for Australia is number 14 Ben Hunt
    Interchange for New Zealand is number 14 Jahrome Hughes
  • Interchange for Australia is number 15 Payne Haas
    Interchange for New Zealand is number 15 Zane Tetevano
  • Interchange for Australia is number 16 Paul Vaughan
    Interchange for New Zealand is number 16 Braden Hamlin-Uele
  • Interchange for Australia is number 17 Wade Graham
    Interchange for New Zealand is number 17 Corey Harawira-Naera

Key match-up

The two No.6s going at it should be worth the price of admission alone. Shaun Johnson was everywhere for NZ at the World Cup 9s, scoring two tries and setting up most of the others the Kiwis scored in five games last weelend. Cameron Munster has not played since the Storm bowed out of the NRL preliminary finals. In fact his last Test appearance was scoring two tries as a centre against Lebanon on the 2017 World Cup. But both men play a care-free brand of football that is highly entertaining and usually brings results on the score board.

For the Kangaroos to win

If Munster playing alongside Daly Cherry-Evans in Test colours for the first time is similar to the way the pair have linked for Queensland, then things are looking rosy for Australia. The energetic Josh Addo-Carr on the left wing should present problems for the Kiwis, and Munster knows his clubmate's skills very well. The Storm flyer is on debut but scored two tries for NSW in this year's Origin series and 16 tries in 23 games for Melbourne in 2019. 

For the Kiwis to win

Johnson scored a hat-trick against Tonga in June, which made up 50% of the tries scored that day. The Roosters grand final trio of Joey Manu, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, and Zane Tetevano (18th man) will be keen to continue celebration mode by keeping up their winning ways against the Aussies. They will be fresh legs for the Kiwis squad, the majority of whom played in the Nines. Their input could be just the battery-source the Kiwis can rely on to get them home.

Stat attack

It's Test match number 'Sweet 16' for Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga. He's after his 15th win at the helm, after only losing six games as a player in the 46 times he  ran out onto the field for Australia. 

And another thing...

It has been known for a few days now that this Test will be Marshall's record 20th appearance as captain of New Zealand, and his first since 2012. The proud Kiwi made his debut 15 years ago, so it's been quite a ride for the 34-year-old. 

Be there live at WIN Stadium for the Test Match Double Header. Visit nrl.com/tickets to purchase tickets.