NSW Under-16s coach Scott Jones is hoping to unearth the next generation of Blues players when his team faces an Under-16s Pasifika team at Belmore Oval on Sunday 9 June.
The 20-man squad includes seven players from the premiership-winning Newcastle Knights team from the UNE Harold Matthews Cup and four players from Grand Finalists Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
The squad was selected after a Harold Matthews Representative team played a NSW Country Under-16s team at Penrith Stadium on Friday 17 May.
“I’m really, really happy with our team,” Jones said.
“I was very excited about the potential for what we’re trying to achieve as development pathways. We’re not just picking a team to win against Pasifika, we’re picking a team and hopefully grooming these kids to be potential NRL players.
“From what I see with the team we’ve got I see a lot of those boys hopefully going through that pathway and doing what Cam Murray and Latrell Mitchell has done.
“We’re not only just picking a team to win this Pasifika game but definitely picking the right kids that we think are going to go on and have careers with the Blues and that’s what we should be trying to achieve with the development pathways.”
Jones said he also had plenty of respect for the Pasifika team after the NSW Under-16s lost a close one against them last year.
“It’s going to be a very emotionally-charged game for them,” Jones said.
“They’re going to do their war dance and stuff before the game.
“Last year you could see the boys we were playing against were quite emotional and it meant a lot to them and obviously it means a lot to us as well for the boys to pull on the NSW jersey.
“It will be a really good clash. It was last year and I’ve got no doubt it will be again this year.”
The Pasifika game is being held in lieu of a match against Queensland. A NSW Under-16s team has played against Queensland since 2013 and has won for the past three consecutive years.
NSW Under-16s squad: 1 Terrell Kalo Kalo (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 2 Reef Sommerville (Northern Rivers Titans), 3 Fletcher Myers (Newcastle Knights), 4 Paul Alamoti (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 5 Turoa Williams (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 6 Thomas Weaver (Northern Rivers Titans), 7 Jonah Pezet (Newcastle Knights), 8 Max Bradbury (Newcastle Knights), 9 Noah Nailagoliva (Newcastle Knights), 10 Davvy Moale (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 11 Brandon Tumeth (Balmain Tigers), 12 Oryn Keeley (Newcastle Knights), 13 Finnley Neilsen (Western Rams), 14 Oskar Bryant (Northern Rivers Titans), 15 Ryan Foran (Northern Rivers), 16 Noah Reed (Newcastle Knights), 17 Lachlan Crouch (Newcastle Knights), 18 Wiliam Taliai (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 19 David Langi (Parramatta Eels), 20 Joseph O’Neill (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs). Coach: Scott Jones.