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Kiwis, Tonga name squads with Staggs, Tupou facing Origin dilemma

New Zealand and Tonga have announced squads bursting with NRL talent for their Pacific Test with Kotoni Staggs and Daniel Tupou facing the prospect of also being named in the NSW team for Origin II in Perth.

Staggs and Tupou have been selected for Tonga but coach Kristian Woolf said a decision would be made by Sunday on whether they will play for the Blues or their national side.

Woolf will consult with NSW coach Brad Fittler later in the week and if they’re selected for state duty, they will suit up for the Blues unless they have a late change of heart and decide to represent Tonga.

Players earn $15,000 a match in Origin while the Tongan representatives will pocket just $2000 for their Test against New Zealand.

Further squads will be announced over the next week for the Representative Round which will feature three Tests plus a men’s and women’s State of Origin clash.

The action kicks off next Friday with the women’s Origin clash in Canberra before New Zealands host top-class rugby league for the first time since 2019 when the Kiwis take on Tonga in Auckland.

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Campbelltown will be the venue for the Pacific double header featuring Samoa against the Cook Islands, followed by Papua New Guinea taking on Fiji.

The Representative Round ends with the men’s Origin showdown in Perth where NSW need to win to keep the series alive after Queensland’s 16-10 upset in game one.

Representative Round
(all times AEST)

  • Origin women’s under 19 at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday June 23: Women’s game at 5.45pm, men’s game at 7.45pm
  • Women’s State of Origin at Canberra’s GIO Stadium on Friday, June 24 at 7.45pm
  • New Zealand Kiwi Ferns v Tonga women’s Test in Auckland on Saturday, June 25 at 1.10pm
  • New Zealand Kiwis v Tonga men’s Test in Auckland on Saturday, June 25 at 3.20pm
  • Pacific double header featuring Samoa v Cook Islands at 5.40pm and PNG v Fiji at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday, June 25 at 7.50pm
  • State of Origin II at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Sunday, June 26 at 7.50pm

Kiwis announce experienced squad

New Zealand have named a 25-man squad full of Test and NRL experience for their clash with Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday June 25.

Recently dumped Wests Tigers mentor Michael Maguire will coach the side in its first outing since November, 2019.

Storm veterans Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Brandon Smith and Nelson Asofa-Solomona will form the nucleus of a tough pack while veteran playmaker Kieran Foran is vying with Dylan Brown to partner Jahrome Hughes in the halves after Shaun Johnson was overlooked.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 22: Jesse Bromwich of the Kiwis (C) is tackled during the Oceania league test between the Kiwis and Mate Ma'a Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium on June 22, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Jesse Bromwich is tackled in the 2019 Test between the Kiwis and Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Te Maire Martin, who has made a tremendous comeback from retirement for the Broncos this season, has been rewarded for his stellar form and is a strong chance to fill the No.1 jersey left vacant by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s switch to rugby.

Roosters star Joey Manu will also add a touch of class out wide while Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo, who was controversially ruled ineligible for Queensland last year, has been selected in his first Kiwis squad.

Kiwis squad:

Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Storm)
Jesse Bromwich (Storm)
Kenneath Bromwich (Storm)
Dylan Brown (Eels)
Erin Clark (Titans)
James Fisher-Harris (Panthers)
Kieran Foran (Sea Eagles)
Peta Hiku (Cowboys)
Jahrome Hughes (Storm)
Moses Leota (Panthers)
Isaac Liu (Titans)
Joseph Manu (Roosters)
Te Maire Martin (Broncos)
Ken Maumalo (Tigers)
Ronaldo Mulitalo (Sharks)
Griffin Neame (Cowboys)
Briton Nikora (Sharks)
Marata Niukore (Eels)
Isaiah Papalii (Eels)
Jordan Rapana (Raiders)
Jordan Riki (Broncos)
Brandon Smith (Storm)
Scott Sorensen (Panthers)
Joseph Tapine (Raiders)
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Warriors)

Daniel Tupou. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Tongan stars in potential Origin tug-of-war

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf has named a squad filled with NRL talent for the Test with the Kiwis but the selection of Blues duo Daniel Tupou and Kotoni Staggs has caused a potential tug-of-war with NSW for their services.

Tupou and Staggs have reportedly told NSW coach Brad Fittler that they wanted to play in Origin II next Sunday in Perth rather than represent Tonga in the Auckland Test.

However, the Tongans have chosen the duo to play if they are not selected for NSW.

Manly forward Haumole Olakau’autu and Sharks centre Siosifa Talakai are also outside chances of being picked by the Blues but are almost certain to be wearing the red of Tonga next weekend.

Cowboys assistant Dean Young will coach Tonga as Woolf is in England with St Helens.

The Tongan forwards will be led by Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo and also feature Rabbitohs second-rower Keaon Koloamatangi, Roosters veteran Siosiua Taukieaho, Canterbury’s Tevita Pangai jnr and Titans prop Moeaki Fotuaika, who represented Queensland in the Origin arena last year but was overlooked for game one last week.

In the backs, Dragons centre Moses Suli, Parramatta rising star Will Penisini, Sharks winger Sione Katoa and Sea Eagles rookie Tolu Koula have plenty of attacking potency while St George Illawarrra young gun Talatau Amone is in line for his Test debut in the halves alongside Penrith teenager Isaiya Katoa, who has signed with the Dolphins next year.

Tolotau Koula (Sea Eagles)
Daniel Tupou (Roosters)
Siosifa Talakai (Sharks)
Moses Suli (Dragons)
Sione Katoa (Sharks)
Kotoni Staggs (Broncos)
Talatau Amone (Dragons)
Siosiua Taukieaho (Roosters)
Siliva Havili (Rabbitohs)
Addin Fonua-Blake (Warriors)
Sitili Tupouniua (Roosters)
Keaon Koloamatangi (Rabbitohs)
Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
Soni Luke (Panthers)
Haumole Olakau’atu (Sea Eagles)
Tevita Pangai jnr (Bulldogs)
Tevita Tatola (Rabbitohs)
Moeaki Fotuaika (Titans)
Will Penisini (Eels)
Isaiya Katoa (Panthers)
Andrew Fifita (Sharks)
Joe Ofahengaue (Wests Tigers)
Starford To’a (Wests Tigers)
Christian Tuipulotu (Sea Eagles)
Eliesa Katoa (Warriors)

De Belin says no to PNG, for now

St George Illawarra’s Jack de Belin won’t be included in Papua New Guinea’s squad for their upcoming Test against Fiji but newly appointed head coach Stanley Tepend is hopeful the lock will accept a call-up later in the year. 

Tepend and his predecessor Michael Marum have held discussions with De Belin about representing his grandmother’s birth nation over the last 12 months.

De Belin only returned to the NRL last year and hasn’t played representative football since 2018, with the 31-year-old ruling himself out of Kumuls selection ahead of next week’s Test at Campbelltown.

Tepend’s squad will be primarily filled by players from Queensland Cup side the PNG Hunters along with a smattering of NRL players.

Brisbane’s David Mead is expected to play centre alongside Melbourne’s Justin Olam, with the pair set to be named Tepend’s captain and vice-captain respectively.

Canterbury’s Bailey Biondi-Odo is due to make his PNG debut in the halves alongside Sydney Roosters playmaker Lachlan Lam, with South Sydney winger Alex Johnston the Kumuls fullback. 

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