Our weekly feature - The Armchair Expert - returns just in time for the finals!
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26 mins ago
Junior Kiwis coach Tony Benson says his players' Bartercard Cup rugby league experience could prove crucial against the Australian Schoolboys at North Harbour Stadium today.
"It is a great grounding and one of the things we have looked at in our selections," Benson said.
"If a teenager is experienced at that level they are playing structured, physical football, which is ideal preparation for Junior Kiwi games."
He was confident his players can test the Australian defence in the two-game series.
"We have a lot of talented players with flair and I want them to show that all over the field."
Senior Kiwis coach Daniel Anderson has made changes to the coaching structure at Junior Kiwis level.
Last year the junior side had a three-strong management team but that has been beefed up to seven to give the youngsters a better idea of the management structure at higher levels.
Mt Albert's Louis Anderson, younger brother of Warriors' centre Vinnie, will captain the Junior Kiwis. He is one of four survivors from last year's side.
Anderson will play as prop instead of his accustomed loose forward position. He was just happy to play football again after a serious knee operation cost him a lot of game time.
"There is definitely a buzz about representing your country and it is good to have so many players with experience at NRL development level, which can only be good for the national side," he said.
Hooker Heath L'Estrange will captain the Australian Schoolboys, who are coached by Rod Patison.
Attention will be on West Tigers' rising NRL star, Benji Marshall, who is one of eight players in the Australian squad eligible to play for New Zealand.
The second test is next Saturday in Porirua.
Junior Kiwis: Damien Crappe (Auckland), Cooper Vuna (Auckland), Toshio Laiseni (Auckland), Iosia Soliola (Auckland), Manu Vatuvei (Auckland), John Monu (Wellington), Aoterangi Herangi (Waikato), Adam Blair (Melbourne Storm), John Te Reo (Wellington), Louis Anderson (Auckland, captain) Bronson Harrison (Wests Tigers), Joseph Clarke (Canterbury), Reihana Peters (Auckland). Interchange: Sam Moa (Wests Tigers), Sam Tagataese (Wellington), Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Auckland), Dion Leiula-Briggs (Auckland).
Australian Schoolboys: Karmichael Hunt, McConkie Tauasa, Scott Russell, Brent Russell, Sam Perrett, Benji Marshall, Benjamin Roberts, Shane Eastwood, Heath L'Estrange (captain), Steve Meredith, Brendon Oake, Tom Learoyd, Marty Michell. Interchange: James Aubusson, Feleti Matoa, Daniel Backo, James Anderson.