PREVIEW: NZ Residents v NZ Maori
The New Zealand Maori and New Zealand Residents will meet this Saturday in Auckland in what is the country’s biggest league representative match of the year.
The Maori side have recruited talent from New Zealand and abroad, with boom rookie Kalyn Ponga initially named in their squad before being forced to pull out due to injury.
But the Ricky Henry-coached outfit still have plenty of big names turning out, led by 2016 Junior Kiwi Patrick Herbert, who is joined by Auckland Player of the Year, Taylor Daniels, and the likes of Dean Kouka-Smith and Kouma Samson who have spent time playing overseas.
The Residents are dominated by players from Auckland’s Fox Memorial Premiership, while Canterbury, Bay of Plenty and Waikato are also represented.
They boast a strong forward pack with Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan, Joseph Price and Uila Aiolupo all capable of producing dynamic plays in attack.
Kay match-up: Manaia Osborne v Jordan Tuarae. Two of the best playmakers in the Auckland first division, their ability to lead their team around the park will be crucial in this match. Osbourne is at his best when running the ball, where his speed and evasion make him dangerous at the line, while he also has some unorthodox last-tackle plays which can catch defensive lines napping. Tuarae was a crucial cog in the Glenora Bears machine that went all the way to the Auckland title this year, and his ability to manage a contest with his strong kicking game is impressive. Watch too for his support play, which can turn a half break into a scoring opportunity.
The teams: New Zealand Maori squad: Aussie Tuwhangai, Clayton Williams, Dean Kouka-Smith, Francis Leger, Mikaere Beattie, Kouma Samson, Manaia Osborne, Mitch Clark, Patrick Herbert, Piki Rogers, Reece Joyce, Roydon Gillett, Samson Graham, Taku Simon, Taylor Daniels, Teariki Peneha, Trent Wallace.
New Zealand Residents squad: Polima Siaki, Jordan Tuarae, Zac Tippins , Siliga Kepaoa, Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan, Joseph Price, Jeremy Siulepa, George Edwards, Roydon Gillett, John Vuetibau, Uila Aiolupo, Erwin Sauni, James Baxendale, Reuben Te Amo, Aaron Jolley, Dana Ratu, Darren Kingi.
Kiwileaguecentral.com predicts: Despite the New Zealand Maori having class all over the field, the ready-made combinations in the Residents team, especially with five Glenora Bears in the squad, could be the difference in this one. Residents by four.
New Zealand Residents v New Zealand Maori
Saturday, October 14, 2.30pm kick-off
Bruce Pullman Park
(Photo: Zac Lake Photography via New Zealand Maori Rugby League).