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Twelve months on, the scars from last year's collapse still sting the Junior Kiwis.

Leading 26-10 soon after halftime at Kogarah Oval, the New Zealand side was unable to hold its advantage down the stretch, conceding five unanswered tries to let the Junior Kangaroos through 38-26.

While the Vodafone Junior Warriors barely held on in similar circumstances only two weeks ago in their Holden Cup triumph, the JKs simply wilted in the New South Wales spring heat and had no answer when the pressure went on.

Only three players - hooker Manaia Cherrington, second rower Joseph Tapine and halfback Zach Dockar-Clay - have returned from that game, but the wounds are still raw for coach Brent Gemmell.

"There's been a lot of talk about that after last year," he admits.

"People have talked a lot about the heat, which was phenomenal.

"But, in the end, we just lost our way a little bit - we got away from our core, basic structures of completing sets.

"It's always very hard when you're doing a lot of tackling in that kind of heat."

As part of the recovery process from that setback, Junior Kiwis management gathered their leadership group together in Sydney for the Anzac Test to set the platform for what they hope will be a different outcome this year in Auckland's more temperate climate.

Not all of those players will take the field on Saturday night - the toll of winning the NYC title from eighth place, with five road games in as many weeks, means only two Vodafone Junior Warriors have made the cut.

But Gemmell's roster is arguably more talented than their trans-Tasman rivals, based on the number of Holden Cup Team of the Year players on each side. New Zealand boasts seven, while Australia has five.

"I wouldn't go that far," chuckles Gemmell.

"We've got some good footballers, but you also have to look at the number of NRL first-grade games in their side.

"Joseph Tapine is our only player with that experience but their squad has a few boys who have run around and also played New South Wales Cup.

"But we believe we have a very, very talented side that can get the win if we play to potential.

"We have a very competitive pack, two very good hookers who will steer the team around the park, and good halves who will see the gaps and exploit them."

For fans, the real interest may lie in which players show their ability to rise to future Kiwi honours. Flying winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored two tries in last year's fixture and has since graduated to the 2014 Four Nations squad.

The current senior team also contains four who represented the Junior Kiwis in 2012 - Tohu Harris, Siliva Havili, Jason Taumalolo and Peta Hiku.

What: Junior Kiwis v Junior Kangaroos

When: 7pm, Saturday, October 18

Where: Mount Smart Stadium

Adults $5, children 12 and under free

NZ Junior Kiwis: Josh Ailoai (Parramatta Eels), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Manaia Cherrington (Wests Tigers), Zach Docker-Clay (Parramatta Eels), Addin Fonua-Blake (St George Illawarra Dragons), Watson Heleta (Wests Tigers), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Danny Levi (Newcastle Knights), Lamar Liolevave (Wests Tigers), Sam Lisone (Vodafone Warriors), Sam Manulelua (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Te Maire Martin (Wests Tigers), Taane Milne (Sydney Roosters), Kodi Nikorima (Brisbane Broncos), Chance Peni (Newcastle Knights), Joseph Tapine (Newcastle Knights), Adam Tuimavave-Gerard (Vodafone Warriors), Braden Uele (Sydney Roosters). Coach: Brent Gemmell. Assistant coach: Kelvin Wright.


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