Francis Tualau has been named on the bench for the Bulldogs against the Rabbitohs. Looks likely to finally make his NRL debut. Former junior Kiwi Renouf To'omaga has been named as a reserve for the Bulldogs against the Rabbitohs. Yet to make his NRL debut.
Former junior Kiwi Jamayne Isaako has been named as a reserve for the Broncos against the Titans. Yet to make his NRL debut.
Taniela Paseka has named as a reserve for Manly against Melbourne. Just signed with Manly from Wests. Yet to make his NRL debut.
Makahesi Makatoa has been named as a reserve for Canberra against the Watrriors. Has played for the Cook Islands. Yet to make his NRL debut.
Former junior Kiwi Braeden Uele has been named as a reserve for the Cowboys against the Dragons. Yet to make his NRL debut.
Former junior Kiwi and Warriors player Marata Niukore has been named as a reserve for Paramatta against Wests. Yet to make his NRL debut.
Good to see that the NZRL will be running the Taurahere concept again this season. NSW based Kiwi eligible players versus Queensland based Kiwi eligible players at the u18s level.
However this year the NZRL has taken the concept further, the Taurahere match will be a trial match that will form the basis of an Aussie based Kiwis u18s side which will then play a NZ residents u18s side.
This match will then serve as a trial for selection for the NZ u18s side to play the Australia school boys side.
Congratulations to Christian Maainama for being named 2017 Newcastle Knights Harold Matthews player of the year. Newcastle Knights won the Harold Matthews competition for 2017. Christian is originally from Auckland
Taranaki's Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens has done just that, signing on with the Parramatta Eels.
The 15-year-old Francis Douglas Memorial College student has taken up an academy offer that would see him travel to Australia for camps twice this year, before spending six months of 2018 across the ditch for the under-18s competition.
"It's pretty overwhelming. At the start it definitely was because I've liked the Eels since Jarryd Hayne was playing for them [Hayne left the club in 2014]. It's just surreal," Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens said.
The opportunity came about through scouting at a number of national tournaments and it wasn't only the Eels who were interested in Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, with the Newcastle Knights also showing an interest.
"We had a few trainings, just to see the squad, and then a game over there and I think it just went of that really.
"It's an opportunity I couldn't really not take. I'll be experiencing everything and be getting my skills up for both rugby and league."
Now that he had signed, he said the club had been in constant contact and would be at least once a month for the rest of the year to check in on how he was doing.
It's already been a big year in terms of rugby league for the young fullback, who represented Fiji at the Pasifika Youth Cup in Auckland in February and recently was part of an under-16 Warriors invitational team to play against Auckland.
His brother, Isaac, was also selected to play for the under-18 invitational tea - with the teams selected by former Warriors first-grade assistant coach Tony Iro - and said the experience was something he would bring back and apply to their games with the College team.
"They encouraged us to go back into our schools and our clubs and be leaders - to bring what we learnt up there into our teams. Things like the skills and the mindset before a game."
Isaac, a 17-year-old half, said he had been approached by an NRL club as well, but talks were in the preliminary stages.
Expecting him to be selected for Tu for the Taurahere match against Toa later in the year.
Another one to keep an eye on in the future is Kaeo Weekes. Plays Harold Matthews for Manly. Born in Australia but has Maori Heritage. Has been carving up and was just recently selected for NSW u16s. Expect a battle for his allegience between the Kangaroos and Kiwis in the future just like the Ponga situation.
Connagh Takairangi from Westlake Boys High, and Glenfield Rovers has signed with Sydney Roosters till the end of 2019. Roosters have been signing up a lot of New Zealand schoolboy talent this year. Also had a lot of Kiwis playing for their SG Ball side this year.
Former Junior Kiwi and recent Kiwis squad member Brandon Smith has been named as a reserve for Melbourne for the first time against Canterbury. Highly unlikely to make his NRL debut in this match. But good to see him getting recognition and pushing for his NRL debut.
You would think he'd be a good chance to make his debut once state of origin rolls around.