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NSW Cup stars aiming to make their mark at Test level

The upcoming Pacific Championships, and Tonga’s Test series against England, will feature a number of new faces who starred in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup this season.

The debutants are headlined by NSW Cup and State Championship-winning South Sydney Rabbitohs five-eighth, Dion Teaupa, who has been named in coach Kristian Woolf’s Tongan squad for their England tour.

Teaupa made his NSW Cup debut in Round Six and went on to make 21 appearances for six tries – five of those in their last seven games – and six try assists.

He is joined in the Mate Ma’a by West Tigers’ new recruit and 2023 NSW Under-19s Origin representative Latu Fainu, after impressing in his first season at Cup level with the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles.

Samoa’s squad to compete in the Pacific Championships features Gordon Chan Kum Tong (Sea Eagles) and Karl Oloapu (Bulldogs), who both progressed from NSW Cup to make their NRL debuts in 2023.

Oloapu came up with two tries, four try assists and 27 tackle-busts in his eight NSW Cup matches, while Chan Kum Tong played 19 games for Blacktown with three tries, three try assists and an average of 27 tackles.

Western Suburbs Magpies prop Justin Matamua, who made his NRL debut for the Tigers last season and played 16 NSW Cup games this year, will also be aiming for his first Test cap after selection in coach Ben Gardner’s 21-man Samoan side.

Samoa start their Pacific Championships campaign in a World Cup Final replay against Australia on Saturday 14 October, while Tonga kicks off their Test series on 22 October in St Helens. 

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