PREVIEW | NSW U-16s v Qld U-16s
The NSW under-16s State of Origin side are just hours away from their all-important clash with their Queensland counterparts, which will take place at 5:50pm at ANZ Stadium prior to the main game.
The Parramatta Eels won the Harold Matthews Cup and the National Champions in 2016, and their efforts were rewarded with five players selected in the Blues squad.
Those players include John Paul Nohra, William Kei, Cliff Lea’aetoa, Harry Duggan, and skipper Kyle Schneider.
Schneider was the man of the match in their Grand Final, while Nohra led from the front all year, including an amazing performance in their National Championship demolition of the Townsville Blackhawks.
The halves pairing are an already established combination from Newcastle, made up by Jock Madden and Pheonix Crossland.
Madden was described by coach Brad Fittler as a tough and serious player who never fails to get the job done, while Crossland is a very complete player with lots of potential that is a shining light up in Newcastle.
Along with the halves, another Newcastle junior in Brock Gardner will lock-up the scrum, and he is a very effective and hyperactive player that will sure to always be in the face of his Queensland opponents.
Tom Baker hopes to carry his scintillating finals-series form into this game, and Isaac Longmuir, Lindsay Smith and Egan Butcher join him as a part of an extremely reliable bench that will certainly bring some explosive impact into the match.
Bronson Xerri and Max Lehmann make up an exciting centre pairing, and Fittler hopes they see as much ball as possible, along with the Eels’ wingers in Kei and Lea’aetoa.
Fittler, as well as experienced former NRL stars such as Mark O’Meley, Mark “Spud” Carroll, Paul Sironen and Jamie Feeney have been preparing them for years in pathways camps, focusing equally on welfare and education as well as their Rugby League.