Vodafone Junior Warriors player of the year Paul Turner leads a contingent of nine of the club’s Jersey Flegg Cup players named in a 25-man Junior Kiwis squad to take on the Australian Schoolboys at Redcliffe’s Dolphin Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday, September 29 (1.00pm kick-off NZT).
In a change from recent times, the Junior Kiwis’ age category has moved from under-20 to under-19.
Whangarei-born Turner, who turned 19 in July, is joined by fullback Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard, wing Selestino Ravutaumada, centre Kayal Iro, halfback Sione Moala, front rower Junior Pua, hooker Temple Kalepo and back rowers Tyler Slade and Isaiah Vagana.
The 17-year-old Moala won the Vodafone Warriors’ Jersey Flegg rookie of the year award.
“With so many New Zealand-eligible players across the NRL and in club pathway teams, the NZRL has named a really strong Junior Kiwis squad,” said Vodafone Warriors general manager football Brian Smith.
“It’s a great honour to have our players named in the wider squad. A number of these players will get the opportunity to join the NRL squad this preseason and others we expect to play regularly in the Canterbury Cup in 2020.
“Our young rookie of the year Sione Moala is still only 17 and after a season of Jersey Flegg will be part of our inaugural SG Ball squad next year.”
The squad includes established Parramatta standoff Dylan Brown and Newcastle wing Starford To'a, who made a try-scoring NRL debut last weekend.
The September 29 match will be televised live on Sky Sport.
“We are extremely grateful for Sky’s ongoing support as this fixture would not have been possible otherwise,” said New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters.
“The Junior Kangaroos recently moved to an under-23s structure as they are set to take on France under-23s later in the year.
“We are looking at re-introducing an under-23 team next year. However, in the meantime, giving our under-19 Junior Kiwis a run against high-quality competition like the Australian Schoolboys is great for the development of our young players.
“We have some undeniable Kiwi talent coming through and it’s exciting we get to see them take the field in what will be nothing short of a high class, entertaining game of rugby league.”
JUNIOR KIWIS v AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS | SQUAD
Starford Toa (Newcastle Knights)
Asu Kepaoa (Sydney Roosters)
Matthew Timoko (Canberra Raiders)
Vito Tevaga (Cronulla Sharks)
Selestino Ravuataumada (Vodafone Warriors)
Paul Turner (Vodafone Warriors)
Dylan Brown (Parramatta Eels)
Griffin Neame (North Queensland Cowboys)
Temple Kalepo (Vodafone Warriors)
Spencer Leniu (Penrith Panthers)
Jordan Riki (Brisbane Broncos)
Ioane Seiuli (Gold Coast Titans)
Tyler Slade (Vodafone Warriors)
Kayal Iro (Vodafone Warriors)
Isaiah Vagana (Vodafone Warriors)
Etu Lui (Parramatta Eels)
Valance Harris (Parramatta Eels)
Sione Moala (Vodafone Warriors)
Shalom O’ofou (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Christian Ma’anaima (Newcastle Knights)
Simi Sasagi (Newcastle Knights)
Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard (Vodafone Warriors)
Bayleigh Bently-Hape (Sydney Roosters)
Christian Tuipulotu (Sydney Roosters)
Junior Pua (Vodafone Warriors)
Head Coach: Ezra Howe
Assistant Coaches: Moehewa Armstrong, Francis Meli
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach: Donny Singe
Head Trainer: Junior Mautairi
Physiotherapist: Simon Keepa
Manager: Jerry Seuseu