NZ schools ready for biggest test

Simplicity is the key word New Zealand secondary schools rugby league coach Paul Bergman has been emphasising to his team ahead of tomorrow night's international against the Australian Schoolboys at Arena Manawatu.

Add to that the chance for some of his charges to earn selection for the Junior Kiwis side that take on the Australians in the second test in Wellington on Saturday and the motivation to do well is high.

The Junior Kiwis lost the first test 14-4 in Auckland last Saturday and Bergman says changes could still be made if some of his players shine tomorrow night.

Despite the Australians' 10-point test-winning margin, and the New Zealand schools' limited preparation for the match - they only assembled in Palmerston North on Sunday - Bergman says his side has already shown plenty of commitment to perform well.

Playing the game at pace, promoting the football as much as possible and having a structured game on defence and attack were keys to winning.

"We're all pretty confident. We know the task ahead of us of course - they (the Australians) are the best 18-year-olds in the world. Especially with our Junior Kiwis losing to them, with their NRL players they've got involved . . . if we do our little things right ? we're a good chance.

"The other carrot is with the Junior Kiwis losing there's the possibility they may make some changes . . . especially if we give them a touch up."

Bergman said yesterday he watched video footage of the Australians' win over the Junior Kiwis and was impressed by the size, power and skill of their players.

Most were in the Australian National Rugby League system, either in first grade like Wests Tigers' Benji Marshall, or in reserve grade or development programmes.

"Australian schoolboys go straight into first grade after these sorts of tours," Bergman said.

"(But) we've got a very rugged team - they won't shy off."

The match will be an ideal opportunity for players to aim for higher honours.

"I believe there are going to be a few scouts in the stand. The Warriors can't have them all. Daniel (Anderson, Warriors coach) is aware that if he doesn't get them then there's another 13 NRL clubs that will grab them," Bergman said.

Wainuiomata's Wiremu Weepu will captain the side from hooker.

"Wiremu's been in New Zealand sides before. I've been fortunate to coach him myself in the past so I know what he's capable of. He's going to be a great leader," Bergman said.

The team was to be named after training today.

Kickoff tomorrow is at 7pm, with the Manawatu under-18s playing the Pacific Islands Rugby League Association under-18s at 5.30pm.

New Zealand Secondary Schools: James Baxendale, Whitiaua Black, Lewis Brown, Brett Clarke, Rocky Ford, Robinson Godfrey, Dabid Gower, Hermann Guttenbeil, Tevita Jurgensen, Marvin Karawana, Simon Mannering, Regan Marriott, Garrent Moana-Mason, Tim Rangihuna, Isaac Sopoaga, Fabian Soutar, Lepani Waqa, Wiremu Weepu, Jan Zabawski.

Australian Schoolboys: Karmichael Hunt, McConkie Tauasa, Scott Russell, Brent Russell, Sam Perrett, Benji Marshall, Benjamin Roberts, Shane Eastwood, Heath Lestrange, Steve Meredith, Brendon Oake, Tom Learoyd, Marty Mitchell, James Aubusson, Feleti Matoa, Daniel Backo, James Anderson.

With Thanks to Manawatu Evening Standard