2017 Junior Test preview
Junior Kangaroos v Junior Kangaroos
Friday May 5, GIO Stadium, 3:15pm (local time)
Streaming LIVE at www.twitter.com/NRL
This Friday afternoon, the best young talents from both sides of the ditch will clash for the ninth time in the annual Junior Test match. This fixture has proven to be a small glimpse into the future, with the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Boyd Cordner and Valentine Holmes, showcasing their talents in past games. If the history is anything to go by, we’ll be seeing the players who run out on to Canberra’s GIO Stadium competing for much higher honours before we know it.
Head to Head
Since 2010, the teams have met eight times for five Kangaroos’ victories. For a full list of these games, with team lists and scorers, click HERE.
2014 Junior Kiwis 15 – 14 Junior Kangaroos, Mt Smart Stadium
2015 Junior Kangaroos 22 – 20 Junior Kiwis, Cbus Super Stadium
2016 Junior Kangaroos 32 – 20 Junior Kiwis, Pirtek Stadium
After taking out the previous two fixtures, the Junior Kangaroos will be hunting for a third straight victory. A win on Friday afternoon would give them the longest winning streak since 2010, with both sides having won two straight games in the past.
Home Sweet Home
Of the previous eight encounters, five have taken in place in Australia, with the Junior Kangaroos winning four of them. The lone Kiwis’ victory on foreign soil came in 2011, when they picked up an impressive 28-16 win on a hot afternoon in Newcastle.
Last Time They Met
Brisbane’s Jaydn Su’A was named man of the match in the corresponding fixture last year, as the Kangaroos’ ran out 34-20 winners at Pirtek Stadium. The heavily favoured Roos’ side, which featured current first grade regulars Tevita Pangai Junior, Nathan Cleary, Coen Hess and Brian Kelly, met a staunch Kiwis’ outfit, only leading 10-8 at the break before taking a stronger lead in the second half.
While only two Kangaroos’ will return from last year’s game to the Kiwis’ five, they more than make up for it in NRL experience. The young Australians will take the field with 22 NRL appearances to New Zealand’s 12, with nine of those belonging to South Sydney’s Siosifa Talakai. For the Kangaroos, Newcastle’s Sam Stone leads the way with eight games, while Tyronne Roberts-Davis has six and Jaydn Su’A has four.
On for Young and Old
While each player selected is under the age of 20, some could have turned out for SG Ball in 2017. The Kiwis’ Chanel Harris-Tavita and Steven Marsters were both born in 1999 and have spent the season in the Holden Cup. In fact, Marsters won’t turn 18 until October, and is a full year younger than the Kangaroo’s youngest players Enari Tuala and Stefano Hala. Dragons club mates Blake Lawrie (Kangaroos) and Patrick Herbert (Kiwis) will be the oldest players on the field, both born on January 10, 1997.
Making the Step Up
While the battle will rage on in the Junior Test, a number of alumni will be preparing for the senior Anzac Test later that night. The Australian squad features five former Junior Roos (Valentine Holmes, David Klemmer, Boyd Cordner, Jake Trbojevic and Justin O’Neill), while the New Zealand squad doubles that with ten former Junior Kiwis (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitua, Dean Whare, Shaun Johnson, Jason Taumalolo, Kodi Nikorima, Martin Taupau, Kenny Bromwich, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Brandon Smith).
Keep An Eye On…
Jesse Ramien (Junior Kangaroos)
A try scorer in Cronulla’s World Club Challenge game earlier this year, Jesse Ramien is not far off first grade after some impressive performances in the NYC. A Coonamble Bears junior, Ramien has eight tries in four appearances in 2017, and is averaging 144 metres, 2 line breaks and 10 tackle breaks per game. In fact, he scored back-to-back hat tricks in the Sharks’ Round 2 and 3 victories. The former Sea Eagle has been playing in the Holden Cup since he was 17 and has deservedly earned a Junior Kangaroos’ jumper in his final year of eligibility.
Greg Leleisiuao (Junior Kiwis)
While we’re unsure if he’ll line up in the centres or on the wing, we are sure that Parramatta’s Greg Leleisiuao will be a threat from wherever he is on the field. The former Titan joined the Eels in the off season and has proven to be near unstoppable since making his club debut for them in Round 3. A Junior Kiwi in 2016, Leleisiuao is averaging a competition high 198.3 metres and 11.4 tackle breaks per game. Just last weekend against the Cowboys, he ran for 307, made six line breaks and broke 14 tackles in the Eels’ 60-12 victory.