An intensive week for New Zealand rugby league has kicked off ahead of Saturday’s historic Trans-Tasman Triple Header at Mount Smart Stadium.
The New Zealand Kiwis face the Kangaroos in the main event following encounters between the Junior Kiwis and the Junior Kangaroos and the Kiwi Ferns and the Australian Jillaroos.
All three New Zealand teams have assembled in Auckland and were all at Mount Smart Stadium throughout Sunday for photoshoots and their first training sessions as they build towards next weekend’s rugby league feast.
Coming into a Kiwi camp for the first time on Saturday were Vodafone Warriors prop Agnatius Paasi – one of seven players from the club in the 24-man squad – plus Melbourne Storm duo Brandon Smith and Jahrome Hughes and NRL premiership-winning centre Joseph Manu. Vodafone Warriors second rower Isaiah Papali’i (20), the fifth newcomer selected, was also named for the Junior Kiwis and is spending time with both camps as he eyes his third consecutive appearance in the annual under-20 international.
While Saturday revolved around the new players being introduced and the others taking the time to get reacquainted, three of the squad – Gerard Beale, Peta Hiku and Hughes – made an appearance at Mount Smart Stadium for the NZRL national premiership final between the Akarana Falcons and the Counties Manukau Stingrays (which the Falcons won 51-20).
On Monday, the Kiwis have gym and field sessions at Mount Smart while the team to face the Kangaroos is set to be named on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, the Kiwis are in the gym in the morning before an opposed training run against the Junior Kiwis in the afternoon. That evening the Kiwis, Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis will have dinner together.
Thursday starts with a coaches’ breakfast at the Mangere East Rugby League Club with Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire and his opposite Mal Meninga followed by a skills and drills clinic.
In the afternoon all six teams involved in the Trans-Tasman Triple Header will gather at SKYCITY for a fan day featuring signing sessions and activities.
On-field preparations for the Test wind up with a final field session at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday morning and a media conference involving the Kiwis, Kangaroos, Kiwis Ferns and Jillaroos.
Saturday’s Test is the first between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos in Auckland since 2012 (when they met at Eden Park) and the first time they’ve clashed at Mount Smart Stadium since the 2006 Tri Nations encounter.
Saturday, October 13
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
3.05pm | Junior Kiwis v Junior Kangaroos, 3.05pm
5.15pm | Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos, 5.15pm
7.45pm | Kiwis v Kangaroos, 7.45pm