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How to watch under-19s State of Origin, when does it start and which players to look out for

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23rd June, 2022
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One of the best weekends of the year kicks off on Thursday night with the Under-19s State of Origin at Leichhardt Oval, with both men’s and women’s games ushering in Representative Round in the NRL.

The 8th Wonder of the World will host the stars of tomorrow, beginning with the Women at 5.45pm and finishing with the men at 7pm.

If you can’t make it to Sydney’s premier old school football location, then here’s how you can keep up with everything that happens.

This game has been a direct line to the NRL: four players from the last time we saw the underage game will feature on Sunday night in Perth, with Stephen Crichton and Matt Burton for NSW and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Murray Taulagi in the Queensland ranks.

Even the under 18s in 2019 were spectacular: this was a game that featured Xavier Coates, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Reece Walsh, later to make the full Queensland squad, as well as some kid called Sam Walker.

They handily defeated a Blues team yet to make any senior NSW appearances, but with a 1-6 that read Bradman Best, Mat Feagai, Max Feagai, Will Penisini, Tyrell Sloan, Jayden Sullivan. Oh, and Josh Schuster and Ben Trbojevic also played. Decent.

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On the women’s side, Teagan Berry stole the show in last year’s contest with two tries and has made the jump to the senior team within just 12 months, as well as Jaime Chapman, Jada Ferguson and April Ngatupuna who all appeared in the NRLW this year.

If you want to see the future of Australian rugby league, look no further than Leichhardt.

How can I watch U-19s State of Origin and when does it start?

This one is a little more complicated than one might have hoped. The women’s game will be on 9Gem from 5:30pm with the men taking top billing – *sigh* – on the main 9 channel from 7.30pm.

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Of course, if you want your footy with fewer adverts and better commentary, both games will be on the usual Fox League and Kayo from 5.30pm all the way through the end.

Who should I be watching out for in U-19s State of Origin?

We have to break this one down into the four constituent parts, and suffice to say, there are stars everywhere. Few of them will be recognisable unless, like me, you are sad enough to watch a lot of junior footy, but that’s why I’m on hand to point them out to you.

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Let’s do the women first. For the Blues, you need look no further than Losana Lutu, the towering five eighth from the Wests Tigers side. She’s played all across the backline for the Tigers and – you’ll have to take my word on this – she’s great.

It’s hardly scientific, but I hung around after the Tigers’ NRL victory over the Bulldogs to watch the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership game between the Tigers and a Mounties side featuring former Dally M winner Simaima Taufa and Lutu was the best player on the park. She’ll go good.

On the other side, Jada Ferguson was excellent for Queensland last year and will turn out again in the halves. The 19-year-old from Toowoomba played four games for the Broncos in the NRLW, pretty much the hardest team in the comp to get into, and has been signed on again for the next edition later this year.

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For the blokes, there’s a few key standouts. Trey Mooney for the Blues has already made an NRL appearance – the only player in this game to have done so – and will start at lock, but the excitement might come from Paul Alamoti in the centres. The Bulldogs man has jumped from youth footy to NSW Cup seamlessly and can’t be far off a top grade gig.

Queensland don’t have anyone with NRL experience, but Jojo Fifita, who will line up against Alamoti, played in the NRL trials for the Titans and looked excellent. He’s David Fifita’s cousin and has been named in extended squads for first grade.

With the Tweed Seagulls in Q Cup, he’s grabbed six tries in seven games. Oh, and he was a junior sprinting champion who pushes 10 seconds in the 100m race, so watch out for any broken play.

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