WIZ: Kiwis will upset the Aussies – again!

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    New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney - the common factor in the Kiwis' recent woes. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

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    There is a rugby league Test match on tonight and honestly, I think my beloved Kiwis can win.

    This game means more to my countrymen than many of you Roarers know, and I’m confident we will beat the Aussies and throw a spanner in your World Cup works.

    I have heard in my travels this week that this is a ‘ho-hum’ game and nowhere near the importance of a NRL round.

    But I can report, first hand, that any chance to do battle with Australia in any sport is amazingly high on any New Zealander’s list, and this game will see the Kiwis produce something very special.

    Steve Kearney hasn’t had long to work with the current team but my spies tell me the boys have gelled from day one and are poised to inflict another upset on the Kangaroos, even though we will be missing big guns such as Benji Marshall, Jeremy Smith and Sonny Bill Williams.

    Halfback Shaun Johnson is definitely the key.

    I have been critical of him in the past but in the last few weeks I have become a serious fan.

    He has finally started running to the line and taking on the defence. Shaun has extraordinary skills – beautiful footwork, exceptional speed and a kicking game that is improving with every outing.

    I think he is very much a confidence player and he is really confident after some terrific games in recent weeks. Watch him closely Kangaroos, the boy can really play!

    Readers of the Wiz column on The Roar should know by now that I have been singing the praises of Melbourne Storm whiz kid Tohu Harris, and he has been called into the New Zealand team for tonight’s biggie in Canberra.

    I say Harris, who is only 21, has been one of the sensations of the NRL in 2013. He could be anything in our game. Take a tip from the Wiz and watch him tonight: he is five-star material.

    Storm coach Craig Bellamy gave Harris an opportunity in the World Club Challenge against Leeds last February. He has gone on to play in every game this season for the defending champions and current league leaders, Melbourne.

    The young bloke comes in for Jeremy Smith, who unfortunately misses this Canberra game due to suspension.

    A product of Hastings, the powerful Tohu joins Storm team-mates Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor in the Kiwis squad. He has a familiar face around him in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck from the Roosters. Both were in the junior Kiwis last year.

    I am not sure if Roger will get a start tonight but mark my words: after making his New Zealand debut, he will become a must-pick player.

    I really like what I am hearing about New Zealand’s build-up to this ANZAC Test. If you are having a little flutter, the Wizard is tipping the mighty Kiwis by four!

    The other game this weekend, in my opinion, is a non-event.

    City versus Country? I think it’s high time the league authorities got rid of this concept. It has run its race – just look at the number of withdrawals because of so-called ‘injuries’.

    If it meant something, such as a chance of attracting attention from the NSW State of Origin selectors, I reckon all players would be on deck.

    It is not an Origin trial. In my mind it is only a rugby league promotional game played at a country venue.

    And can somebody tell the Wizard why the NSW v Queensland Under-20s State of Origin game is being played tomorrow? The scheduling of this important game beggars all belief.

    Gary Freeman
    Gary Freeman

    Gary 'Wiz' Freeman is one of the great halfbacks in New Zealand rugby league history. Now an outspoken and popular media personality, he joined The Roar in 2012 as an expert rugby league columnist.

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    The Crowd Says (36)

    • April 19th 2013 @ 7:54am
      Wii said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      I will be very happy to see the Kiwis win but highly unlikely.

      With Benji out with injury as well as SBWs convenient 7day injury long enough to keep him out of Test footy but able to return for NRL duty (my own conspiracy theory).

      Smith out due to suspension

      I’m going to say Kangaroos by 20+

      • April 19th 2013 @ 8:17am
        oikee said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        They did that in AFL as well, sat out rep games.
        I would rub anyone who cant make the rep teams out for 2 weekends after the rep weekend is up.
        Make sure they have plenty of time to get over these major or minor injuries and not turn our rep games into a washout like AFL did with their contests.
        Origin was built off the back of players giving their all to put on the blue or maroon jersey, even if that meant taking the drip out of your arm yourself and dismissing yourself from the hospital bed.

        When we start to allow clubs dictate this game, it is all over red rover.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 1:05pm
          Mailman said | April 19th 2013 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

          I like your idea of a mandatory standown if you opt out of a rep game due to “injury”.

    • Roar Rookie

      April 19th 2013 @ 8:05am
      Damn Straight said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      Hahaha, I applaud your optimism Gary.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 8:44am
      Jaiden Florimo said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      When the Kiwis lose Freeman will laugh it off saying ‘you cant always be right’. However it would be nice if this author was right once every now and then…

      • Columnist

        April 19th 2013 @ 7:53pm
        Tim Prentice said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

        Go back through his articles Jaiden. I have.
        The Wiz has been right on the button – so many times.

        • Roar Guru

          April 19th 2013 @ 9:34pm
          Cameron Kellett said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

          Unfortunately won’t be right this time. The betting agencies most often get it correct.

          • April 19th 2013 @ 9:46pm
            Jaiden Florimo said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

            What were you saying Tim? You will find Freeman is full of hot air. Also reading Freeman’s long winded inaccurate articles once is enough for me thanks.

    • Roar Guru

      April 19th 2013 @ 9:37am
      Cameron Kellett said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:37am | ! Report

      I had better run down to the local TAB and place $10 on the kiwis then. Last I checked they were like $6.00 something.

      But id rather spend that $10 on KFC cause this match is boring and pointless. International rugby league has a lot to learn and this mid year test represents??? Pre selection for origin?

      Will be thankfully working and will honestly admit I have not watched a full international league match since? I can’t remember!

      • April 19th 2013 @ 2:41pm
        Renegade said | April 19th 2013 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

        Well you’ve missed out on some good contests over the last few years.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 9:47pm
          Jaiden Florimo said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:47pm | ! Report

          You’ve missed nothing Kellett. The sooner international rogby league goes away the better. Its played amongst 3 serious nation, in which rugby league is the main sport in none of them.

          • April 19th 2013 @ 10:18pm
            Dean - Surry Hills said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:18pm | ! Report

            You’d better tell that to the people of PNG.
            Last time that I checked their populace was close to double that of NZ.

            • April 21st 2013 @ 9:06am
              clipper said | April 21st 2013 @ 9:06am | ! Report

              But PNG have absolutely no chance to win the RWC,let alone beat any of countries Jaiden mentions so does nothing to disprove the post

              • April 21st 2013 @ 9:55am
                Bearfax said | April 21st 2013 @ 9:55am | ! Report

                Suggest you read my comments below Clipper.

                No one is suggesting PNG will win the Rugby League World Cuo, which I assume you are referring to at this stage of their development. But they are already pretty much in the class of Wales and France, and though this may not be saying much given the gap between the top 3 teams and the next tier, they are getting better and on their day could give the top three a run for their money.

                I’ve said it so often before. If Rugby League wants to achieve International recognition,it MUST play more games against the lesser teams more often. Those teams will probably be flogged now and then, but it helps them to know what they need to do to improve. With the right coaching, financial backing, competition etc I can see PNG seriously challenging for the RLWC within a few decades. They are already well ahead of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

          • Roar Guru

            April 19th 2013 @ 10:27pm
            Cameron Kellett said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

            It was poor international rugby league tonight in the second half. I really wasn’t pleased with the standard. But that’s what you get with a one off test.

            • April 19th 2013 @ 11:45pm
              Jaiden Florimo said | April 19th 2013 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

              I said serious nations Dean. PNG have a go and love the sport but when was the last time they beat Australia in a test match?

              • April 20th 2013 @ 2:49am
                Bearfax said | April 20th 2013 @ 2:49am | ! Report

                I wouldnt be putting Papua New Guinea down so quickly Jaden.

                In their very short International history since admission to international matches in the mid 80s they have in fact beaten an Australian Prime Ministers XIII in 2005 by 24-16. They beat New Zealand in 1986 24-22, Great Britain in 1990 20-18. They have beaten France several times and are rated 6th best Rugby League nation in 2012 after Australia, New Zealand, England, France and Wales. They are classed well ahead of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Their last match against Tonga in 2009 ended in them winning 44-14. Though they have received some floggings from the major League nations, generally they have become increasingly competitive.

                Papua New Guinea is an untapped gold mine for Rugby League. Given the finances and good coaching they could easily become one of the top four Rugby League nations and in time, perhaps a few decades, could potentially win a World Cup.. Rugby League is the national game of that country and that country is the only one that has rugby league as its premier sport

                I’m a very strong supporter in fact in having a Papua New Guinea side in the NRL. They have apparently the sponsors and the facilities to be competitive.

              • April 20th 2013 @ 8:14am
                Jaiden Florimo said | April 20th 2013 @ 8:14am | ! Report

                So they very fact you need to point out PNG has beaten some Prime Ministers XIII most likely means PNG has never beaten Australia. You are getting excited about PNG beating NZ 27 years ago. Seriously, you havent got a great case going for you im afraid…

              • April 20th 2013 @ 11:30am
                Bearfax said | April 20th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                Points taken Jaiden. But PNG is a very young rugby league playing country, having officially established the sport in 1949. That’s after Parramatta and Manly joined the comp. They didnt join international comps until 1986-7 though they played England once in the 70s and lost by only 38-10. Despite recent problems in their game they have over 10.000 officially registered adult players in the game and many many thousands of registered junior players. They have forty official adult comps each having at least seven teams with a minimum of four grades They are ranked presently as sixth best League side internationally are are not far off being fourth. The official International ratings system has the following points per country;

                Australia: 1303
                New Zealand: 916
                England: 671
                France: 267
                Wales: 227
                PNG: 220
                Fiji: 119
                Samoa: 93
                Tonga: 62
                (Left out some countries between Samoa and Tonga because of relevance)

                It is probable that PNG will be No 4 International Rugby League side by 2020.

                What holds PNG back is some political infighting, lack of good coaching, finances and most importantly enough competition against top sides. their last international was in 2010. They have played in the Queensland Cup, many of their players have played first grade Rugby League in this country, Adrian Lam being the most well known.

                What Rugby League needs is to stop being so insular with the vast majority of matches between Australia, New Zealand and England. If it wants to expand, it must promote teams outside of that triumvirate. The Tonga vs Samoa match being played and televised is an excellent innovation. And those teams are a tier down from PNG, a potential first tier country in Rugby League in a few decades. They must be encouraged and supported.

          • April 20th 2013 @ 12:10pm
            Renegade said | April 20th 2013 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

            Kellett,

            Here’s some advice….avoid any comments submitted by Jaiden.
            I don’t think he actually watches rugby league.

            • April 20th 2013 @ 9:39pm
              Jaiden Florimo said | April 20th 2013 @ 9:39pm | ! Report

              I was chipping and chasing long before you were out of nappies is my guess Renegade.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 9:42am
      Football_illiterate said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      I was also surprised by 20’s origin scheduling.. Why isn’t it a curtain raiser to the big boys??

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 9:46am
      Bearfax said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      Would be good for International Rugby League if NZ won, but the chances are slim. But hey NZ is the home of miracles isnt it Gary

      • April 19th 2013 @ 9:48pm
        Jaiden Florimo said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

        Wizz doesnt know what he is talking about. He will just blow it off as ‘over patriotism’ to cover the fact he doesnt know what he is talking about.

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