Footy is just around the corner and I’m sure the NRL can’t wait for the opening kick-off so the media focus ever so slightly shifts from footy players to the rugby they play.
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This week, the NRL takes a break from the regular season to take part in Representative Round. While the focus may be on Sunday night’s State of Origin game, there are several other important matches. This is The Roar’s guide on all you need to know about Representative Round.
The round kicks off on Friday night with the inaugural Women’s State of Origin round.
Saturday sees the Pacific Test return with a double-header at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
The first instalment pits Papua New Guinea against Fiji while later that night Samoa and Tonga face off in a game between two of the most passionate rugby league nations in the world.
On Sunday morning we head to the States when New Zealand take on England in the Denver Test.
Of course, later that night State of Origin Game 2 will kick-off, with the Blues looking to seal their first series win over the Maroons since 2014.
In the lead-up to that game the NSW Residents and QLD Residents will do battle at ANZ Stadium.
The round kicks off on Friday night with the inaugural women’s State of Origin clash while the pinnacle.
All times below are AEST.
Date: Friday, June 22
Kick-off: 7:40pm (AEST)
Venue: North Sydney Oval
TV: Live, Nine Network and Fox League
Referees: Jon Stone and Peter Gough
New South Wales Women:
1 Sam Bremner, 2 Taleena Simon, 3 Corban McGregor, 4 Isabelle Kelly, 5 Nakia Davis-Welsh, 6 Lavina O’Mealey, 7 Maddison Studdon (c), 8 Elianna Walton (vc), 9 Rebecca Riley, 10 Simaima Taufa, 11 Talesha Quinn, 12 Kezie Apps, 13 Vanessa Foliaki. Interchange: 14 Nita Maynard, 15 Rebecca Young, 16 Holli Wheeler, 17 Hannah Southwell, 18 Quincy Dodd.
1 Chelsea Baker, 2 Karina Brown (c), 3 Amelia Kuk, 4 Meg Ward, 5 Rhiannon Revell-Blair, 6 Zahara Temara, 7 Ali Brigginshaw, 8 Rona Peters, 9 Brittany Breayley (vc), 10 Heather Ballinger, 11 Tazmin Gray, 12 Maitua Feterika, 13 Annette Brander. Interchange: 14 Mariah Storch, 15 Steph Hancock, 16 Kody House, 17 Tallisha Harden, 18 Frieda Seu.
History will be made on Friday night when New South Wales and Queensland battle for bragging rights in the first-ever women’s State of Origin game. There will be plenty of new faces with the sides naming five and six debutantes respectively.
Date: Saturday, 23 June
Kick-off: 4pm (AEST)
Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium
TV: Fox League, 9Gem
Referee: Matt Cecchin
Papua New Guinea:
1. Nene Macdonald 2. Junior Rau 3. Thompson Teteh 4. Justin Olam 5. Richard Pandia 6. Lachlan Lam 7. Watson Boas 8. Enoch Maki 9. James Segeyaro 10. Luke Page 11. Rhyse Martin 12. Rod Griffin 13. Rhadley Brawa 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Willie Minoga 16. Adex Wera 17. Stanton Albert 18. Nixon Putt
1. Kevin Naiqama 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Akuila Uate 4. Tyrone Phillips 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Jarryd Hayne 7. Henry Raiwalui 8. Kane Evans 9. Joe Lovodua 10. Tui Kamikamica 11. King Vuniyayawa 12. Salesi Junior Fainga’a 13. Jayson Bukuya 14. Eloni Vunakece 15. Pio Seci 16. Sitiveni Moceidreke 17. Pio Sokobalavu 18. Mikaele Ravalawa 19. Junior Roqica
Both Papua New Guinea and Fiji were surprise packets in last year’s Rugby League World Cup. PNG bowed out in the quarter-finals at the hands of England while Fiji went down to Australia. Both will be looking to prove their worth on the international stage on Saturday afternoon.
Date: Saturday, 23 June
Kick-off: 7:10pm (AEST)
Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium
TV: Fox League, Channel 9
Referee: Grant Atkins
Samoa (alphabetical order):
Anthony Milford, Bunty Afoa, Christian Crichton, Dunamis Lui, Isaiah Papali’i, James Gavet, Joey Leilua, Jorge Taufua, Joseph Paulo, Josh Aloiai, Mason Lino, Michael Chee Kam, Ligi Sao, Luciano Leilua, Pita Godinet, Sam Kasiano, Tim Lafai, Tyrone May
Tonga (alphabetical order):
Andrew Fifita, Addin Fonua-Blake, Ata Hingano, Daniel Tupou, Jason Taumalolo, Joe Ofahengaue, Junior Tatola, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Ma’u, Michael Jennings, Moeaki Fotuaika, Peni Terepo, Robert Jennings, Siliva Havilli, Sione Katoa, Sio Siua Taukieaho, Tuimoala Lolohea, Will Hopoate
Last year’s World Cup clash between Samoa vs Tonga was the most memorable of the tournament, with viewers charmed by the emotion and passion displayed by both sides. The pre-match chants, in particular, were a highlight and are sure to feature on Saturday night once more.
Date: Sunday, June 24
Kick-off: 6:10am (AEST)
Venue: Mile High Stadium
TV: Live, Fox League
New Zealand (alphabetical order):
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Esan Marsters, Herman Ese’ese, Isaac Liu, Issac Luke, Jamayne Isaako, James Fisher-Harris, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jordan Kahu, Joseph Tapine, Ken Maumalo, Kodi Nikorima, Leeson Ah Mau, Martin Taupau, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Peta Hiku, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Slade Griffin, Te Maire Martin
England (alphabetical order):
Chris Hill, Elliott Whitehead, Gareth Widdop, George Williams, Jake Connor, James Graham, James Roby, Jermaine McGillvary, John Bateman, Jonny Lomax, Luke Thompson, Mark Percival, Ryan Hall, Sam Burgess, Scott Taylor, Sean O’Loughlin, Stefan Ratchford,
Tom Burgess,Tommy Makinson
Kiwis coach Michael Macguire has a massive challenge in his first game in charge of the New Zealand side, with a host of regular first graders pulling out of Sunday morning’s game. They come up against a determined England outfit who will only be without front rower George Burgess.
Date: Sunday, June 24
Kick-off: 4:10pm (AEST)
Venue: ANZ Stadium
TV: Live stream, NSWRL.com.au
NSW Residents (alphabetical order):
Aaron Gray (Newtown Jets), Bayley Sironen (Western Suburbs Magpies), Billy Brittain (North Sydney Bears), Blayke Brailey (Newtown Jets), Caleb Aekins (Penrith Panthers), Dean Britt (North Sydney Bears), Ed Murphy (Mounties), Jacob Felise (Western Suburbs Magpies)
Kurt Dillon (Newtown Jets), Kyle Flanagan (Newtown Jets), Liam Martin (Penrith Panthers), Luke Garner (Western Suburbs Magpies)
Maika Sivo (Penrith Panthers), Mawene Hiroti (North Sydney Bears), Ofahiki Ogden (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Scott Sorensen (Newtown Jets), Sean O’Sullivan (Wyong Roos), Suaia Matagi (Wentworthville Magpies), Tony Satini (Mounties)
1. Scott Drinkwater (Easts Tigers), 2. Jonus Pearson (Redcliffe Dolphins), 3. Marion Seve (Souths Logan Magpies), 4. Gehamat Shibasaki (Norths Devils), 5. Kalifa Faifai-Loa (Townsville Districts Blackhawks), 6. Billy Walters (Easts Tigers), 7. Jamal Fogarty (Burleigh Bears), 8. Nathaniel Neale (Ipswich Jets), 9. Patrick Politoni (Burleigh Bears), 10. Sam Anderson (Redcliffe Dolphins), 11. Patrick Kaufusi (Easts Tigers), 12. Blake Leary (Burleigh Bears), 13. Patrick Mago (Souths Logan Magpies), 14. Mitchell Cronin (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), 15. Patrick Carrigan (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), 16. Lachlan Timm (Sunshine Coast Falcons), 17. William Bugden (Northern Pride), 18. Jake Clifford (Northern Pride)
The best of the crop from both NSW’s Intrust Super Premiership and QLD’s Intrust Super Cup come together for the curtain-raiser to Sunday night’s main event at ANZ Stadium. The Blues will be looking to bounce back after the Maroons ran out 36-6 winners in last year’s fixture.
Date: Sunday, 24 June
Kick-off: 7.40pm (AEST)
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
TV: Live, Nine Network
New South Wales Blues
1. James Tedesco, 2. Tom Trbojevic, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. James Roberts, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. James Maloney, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Boyd Cordner (c), 12. Tyson Frizell, 13. Jack de Belin Interchange: 14. Paul Vaughan, 15. Jake Trbojevic, 16. Angus Crichton, 17. Tyrone Peachey
Queensland Maroons (Squad)
1. Billy Slater, 2. Valentine Holmes, 3. Greg Inglis (captain), 4. Will Chambers, 5. Dane Gagai, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Felise Kaufusi, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Kalyn Ponga, 15. Josh Papalii, 16. Coen Hess, 17. Jai Arrow
With several experts claiming that Queensland’s long-standing Origin dynasty is over, all the pressure will be on the NSW Blues on Sunday night as they look to claim their first series victory since 2014. The Maroons are boosted by the return of fullback Billy Slater while Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga could pose a threat off the bench. It makes for one of the most highly-anticipated Origin games in recent memory.
All matches except for the Denver Test and NSW Residents vs QLD Residents match can be viewed on Channel 9. These Denver Test can be viewed by Foxtel subscribers on Fox League (Channel 502) while the Residents clash is available via live stream on the NSWRL or QRL website.