Rugby League Representative Round: Preview and Crystal Ball Predictions

There are many blockbuster matches this round (Photo: NRL.com)

The representative round is upon us. As the 16 premiership teams and women teams take a one week break, the best players have been selected to represent either their state or country.

The Inner Sanctum team has made their predictions for these eight representative matches.

The week starts off on Thursday night as the stars of the next generation face off against each other in the Under 19’s State of Origin. The night will be kicked off at 5:45 pm AEST with the Under 19’s women’s game followed by the Under 19’s Men’s game at 7:45 pm AEST.

The first game will feature marquee players Losana Lutu and Chantel Tuagaga for New South Wales and Jasmine Peters and Jada Ferguson for Queensland.

The next Under 19’s game will feature a range of pathway, developmental and first-grade players. The New South Wales side will be led by Canberra Raiders forward Trey Mooney. Opposing them will be a talented Queensland line-up including headline act, Blake Mozer, who recently signed a long-term contract with the Broncos.

Friday will feature the Women’s State of Origin. Starting at 7:45pm AEST the game will not be a home game for either team, with it being played in GIO Stadium in Canberra.

Dally M Medal winner, Emma Tonegato, will make her debut in the blue and will hope to lead the team to victory. The Queensland line-up will feature two former rugby sevens players in Evania Pelite and Emily Bass.

On Saturday, representative round heads to Mount Smart Stadium where the New Zealand and the Kiwi Ferns will take on Tonga. The women play first at 1:10pm AEST, followed by the men straight away at 3:20pm AEST.

Tonga Women’s will hope to bring the upset of the weekend against the experienced Kiwi Ferns. Tonga will rely on family genes getting them over the line with Tegan Dymock and Kalosipani Hopoate. The Ferns have decided to hand out debuts to several players like Page McGregor but will be accompanied by the reliable veteran Krystal Rota and Georgia Hale.

As that game comes to a close, the next game includes several superstars for both teams. In form team-mates Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith will be looking to continue their winning ways with a scary forward pack .

Despite being dropped, New South Wales player Kotoni Staggs will hope to prove selectors wrong playing for Tonga. Accompanying him in the team are powerhouses Keaon Koloamatangi and Jason Taumalolo who can change the momentum of the game in an instant.

The night will continue in Sydney as Samoa take on Cook Islands at 5:40pm AEST, followed by Papua New Guinea versus Fiji. With the Rugby League World Cup at the end of the year Samoa will be looking to put on a dominant performance against the inexperienced Cook Islands side.

Don’t underestimate Cook Islands as they will have three sets of brothers playing who will be looking to put up a fight.

Next, is the blockbuster game of the round.

Papua New Guinea led by Lachlan Lam the son of legendary Roosters and Maroons player Adrian Lam will look to defeat Fiji with their back-line. While Fiji, lead by premiership winner Viliame Kikau will hope to win the game through the forwards. However, the main talking point of the game is Justin Olam vs Maika Sivo.

The representative round will be closed out with game two of State of Origin. A must-win for the Blues, Brad Fittler has made several changes to the team which include seven Penrith players as well as former Panther and debutant Matt Burton.

The Maroons will need to rely on their game-plan and bring the same intensity off the bench as game one. This game may be the defining factor of Nathan Cleary’s career to see if he really is a world class after a disappointing game one.

U19’s Women – New South Wales vs Queensland

The New South Wales team will include several players who have had NRLW experience in the past. If New South Wales are to win it will be decided by their forward pack. Rueben Cherrington, the sister of Eels player Kennedy, will be accompanied by the experience of Chantel Tugaga and Leilani Wilson. Both players have proved they will be stars in the future and are full of potential.

Their opponent is an inexperienced but strong Queensland side. Led by backs Jada Ferguson and Jasmine Peters, they bring innovation and creativity to the team. However, they will be outsiders coming into the clash with the game being played at Leichhardt Oval. If Queensland is able to get to a quick start, they will be hard to defeat.

U19s WomenNSW vs QLD Predictions:

Ethan Lee Chalk – Queensland by 8 points (POTM: Jasmine Peters)

Lachlan Dand – Queensland by 12 (POTM: Jasmine Peters)

Michael Algeri – New South Wales by 6 (POTM: Losana Lutu)

Dominic Criniti – New South Wales by 4 (POTM: Losana Lutu)

William Makepeace – New South Wales by 6 (POTM: Jada Taylor)

Brandon Patane – Queensland by 4 (POTM: Jasmine Peters)

Kye Ferreira – Queensland by 4 (POTM: Otese Pule)

U19s Men – New South Wales vs Queensland

This game will come down to the effort both sides decide to bring. After just making his first-grade debut for the Canberra Raiders, Trey Mooney will hope to deliver a solid performance to keep his position in the side. With the Wests Tigers currently in a rebuilding stage, forwards Brandon Tumeth and Justin Matamua will be looking to have a good game in order to be called-up to the first-grade squad.

Souths fullback, Terrell Kalo Kalo, is another player who is down for a good performance and will have to go up against Queensland and Penrith fullback Isaiah Iongi. Both players will be looking to out-do each other on Thursday. After signing a multi-year deal, Blake Mozer, will be the player to keep an eye on during the game.

New South Wales are the favourites to win, having the better team on paper and having the home crowd behind them. Queensland will look to Mozer and Iongi to lead them to victory but will need a supporting cast behind them.

U19s Men NSW vs QLD Predictions:

Ethan Lee Chalk – New South Wales by 6 points (POTM: Trey Mooney)

Lachlan Dand – New South Wales by 8 (POTM: Jonah Pezet)

Michael Algeri – New South Wales by 16 (POTM: Paul Alamoti)

Dominic Criniti – New South Wales by 10 (POTM: Terrell Kalo Kalo)

William Makepeace – New South Wales by 10 (POTM: Trey Mooney)

Brandon Patane – New South Wales by 6 (POTM: Jack Bostock)

Kye Ferreira – New South Wales by 10 (POTM: Trey Mooney)

Women’s State of Origin: New South Wales vs Queensland

After winning two consecutive years in a row, Queensland are hoping to make it a third. They have called two former rugby sevens players into the team with Evania Pelite and Emily Bass. Both of these players have played less than two years of rugby league with Bass only starting this year.

They have decided to pick nine players from the Titans and eight players from Brisbane in their squad, meaning they are use to how each other play. 40-year-old Steph Hancock comes onto the bench and provides a wealth of experience if things gets tough.

New South Wales will be looking for redemption from last years two point loss. They will be led by Dally M Medal winner Emma Tonegato who will make her Origin debut. The experienced fullback might be the edge that they need to get over the line. Just like the Queensland side, they have decided to select eight players from one team, in this case the Dragons.

Women’s State of Origin Predictions:

Ethan Lee Chalk – Queensland by 6 points (POTM: Emily Bass)

Lachlan Dand – Queensland by 6 (POTM: Ali Brigginshaw)

Michael Algeri – New South Wales by 2 (POTM: Emma Tonegato)

Dominic Criniti – New South Wales by 2 (POTM: Jessica Sergis)

William Makepeace – New South Wales by 2 (POTM: Emma Tonegato)

Brandon Patane – New South Wales by 8 (POTM: Jessica Sergis)

Kye Ferreira – Queensland by 6 (POTM: Tamika Upton)

Kiwi Ferns vs Mate Ma’a Tonga Women

The Kiwi Ferns are undoubtedly favourites to win but there can always be an upset on the cards. Tonga will have to rely on the experienced players and players with family connections if they are a chance of winning.

Kalosipani Hopoate and Seli Mailangi are related to former Sea Eagle John Hopoate, while Tegan Dymock is the daughter of legendary Bulldog Jim Dymock. Rugby league is in their genes but they will have to show up in full-force as the Kiwi Ferns have the home-crowd and experience behind them.

With the Kiwi Ferns being favourites, the player of the match could go to anyone. It might go to experienced players like Kystal Rota or Georgia Hale or debutantes like centre Page McGregor. It is a flip of the coin to decide who the best on ground will be

Kiwi Ferns vs Mate Ma’a Tonga Women Predictions:

Ethan Lee Chalk – Kiwi Ferns by 14 points (POTM: Krystal Rota)

Lachlan Dand – Kiwi Ferns by 14 points (POTM: Krystal Rota)

Michael Algeri – Kiwi Ferns by 22 (POTM: Page McGregor)

Dominic Criniti -Kiwi Ferns by 18 (POTM: Georgia Hale)

William Makepeace – Kiwi Ferns by 8 (POTM: Georgia Hale)

Brandon Patane – Kiwi Ferns by 8 (POTM: Page McGregor)

Kye Ferreira – Kiwi Ferns by 14 (POTM: Roxy Murdoch-Masila)

New Zealand vs Mate Ma’a Tonga

Playing at home for the first time in two years due to COVID-19, New Zealand will hope to rely on their big name players to get the win. The best in-form player in the competition right now, Jahrome Hughes will be leading the team with Melbourne Storm teammate Brandon Smith. Their forward line is stacked with reliable players, including brothers Jesse and Kenneath Bromwich, Penrith duo James FisherHarris and Moses Leota and Eels star player Isaiah Papali’i.

The only way the Kiwis can lose is due to their inexperience back-line. Ronaldo Mulitalo, Dylan Brown and Marate Niukore will all make their debuts, and are yet to experience how different international matches are compared to normal games.

Mate Ma’a Tonga will be looking for an upset at Mt Smart Stadium. Tonga is a team that is unbeatable when they show up, but are not always guaranteed to do so. Kotoni Staggs will be hoping to show New South Wales selectors that he shouldn’t have been dropped after a disappointing game one.

The underrated Moses Suli is another name who viewers should look out for. Suli is one of the top centres of the competition this year for the Dragons. Captain Jason Taumalolo and Keaon Koloamatangi will lead the forward charge against New Zealand on Saturday.

New Zealand vs Mate Ma’a Tonga Predictions:

Ethan Lee Chalk – New Zealand by 2 points (POTM: Jahrome Hughes)

Lachlan Dand – New Zealand by 14 (POTM: Jahrome Hughes)

Michael Algeri – New Zealand by 10 (POTM: Joseph Tapine)

Dominic Criniti – Mate Ma’a Tonga by 4 (POTM: Keaon Koloamatangi)

William Makepeace – New Zealand by 12 (POTM: Jahrome Hughes)

Brandon Patane – New Zealand by 12 (POTM: Ronaldo Mulitalo)

Kye Ferreira – New Zealand by 4 (POTM: Joseph Manu)

Samoa vs Cook Islands

Cook Islands will be looking to produce an upset against Samoa. The small nation has named two sets of brothers in the starting team with Steven and Esan Marsters and Reubenn and Vincent Rennie. Esan Marsters who currently plays for the Titans will help to guide his team to victory in the number six jersey.

After being selected to represent New South Wales in the Under 19’s State of Origin, Davvy Moale will bring intensity off the bench. They will also have to rely heavily on experienced veteran and former Rooster Tinirau Arona in the middle of the pack.

Samoa named one of the best teams of the weekend. Taylan May and Izack Tago will be looking to continue their Penrith form and prove to the audience they are a better combination than Brian To’o and Stephen Crichton.

Long standing winger David Nofoaluma is always elite and will be joined by former team-mate Martin Taupau. Their experience and knowledge will help the younger players get rid of all nerves before the game. Samoa’s ability to change momentum through their defence will be a decisive factor in this clash.

Samoa vs Cook Islands Predictions:

Ethan Lee Chalk – Samoa by 22 points (POTM: Taylan May)

Lachlan Dand – Samoa by 10 (POTM: Jaxson Paulo)

Michael Algeri – Samoa by 34 (POTM: Josh Aloiai)

Dominic Criniti – Samoa by 20 (POTM: David Nofoaluma)

William Makepeace – Samoa by 18 (POTM: Josh Schuster)

Brandon Patane – Samoa by 14 (POTM: David Nofoaluma)

Kye Ferreira – Samoa by 12 (POTM: Anthony Milford)

Papua New Guinea vs Fiji

In the blockbuster clash of the round, Papua New Guinea will be looking to their backs for the win while Fiji will be looking to their forwards. All-time Rabbitohs tryscoring leader, Alex Johnston, will start at fullback and will be joined by last year’s Dally M Centre of the Year Justin Olam and innovator David Mead.

If the Kumals are to become victorious, young gun, Lachlan Lam, will need to have a great game. Their attack will run off his play-making ability and if he is able to create chances there will be no stopping them.

Fiji will be looking to second-rower, Viliame Kikau, and Storm prop, Tui Kamikamica, to defeat the Kumals. These two forwards will hope pave the way for Fiji to run over the Kumals. Eels winger, Maika Sivo, will be looking to make an impact and earn his right as one of the best.

Their play-making will come from veteran, Kevin Naiqama, the younger brother of Wes. Not normally known as a five-eighth he may have trouble instructing the players around the field. If he is able to be backed up by players around him the Fiji Bati will walk away with the win.

Papua New Guinea vs Fiji Predictions: Papua New Guinea by 2 points (POTM: Lachlan Lam)

Ethan Lee Chalk – Papua New Guinea by 2 points (POTM: Lachlan Lam)

Lachlan Dand – Papua New Guinea by 8 (POTM: Justin Olam)

Michael Algeri – Fiji by 10 (POTM: Tui Kamikamica)

Dominic Criniti – Fiji by 14 (POTM: Villiame Kikau)

William Makepeace – Fiji by 20 (POTM: Viliame Kikau)

Brandon Patane – Fiji by 10 (POTM: Kevin Naiqama)

Kye Ferreira – Papua New Guinea by 10 (POTM: Justin Olam)

State of Origin Two: New South Wales vs Queensland

After a disappointing result in game one, Brad Fittler has decided to make five changes to his team. With Apisai Koroisau and Matt Burton joining the starting side, New South Wales will have just nine players from the side that won the premiership last year.

Fittler is relying on team chemistry to win the game and provide Nathan Cleary with options. Cleary was manhandled by the Queensland defence in game one and had a poor kicking game. On Sunday, he will be hoping to prove his critics wrong and illustrate why he is the best half-back in the competition.

The Maroons come into the game with only two changes with Jai Arrow and Murray Taulagi replacing the injured Reuben Cotter and Xavier Coates. After a ten out of ten performance, Cameron Munster will be wanting it to back it up and prove that he is better than Cleary in all facets of the game.

The interchange won it for Queensland in game one led by Patrick Carrigan and Lindsay Collins. Slater was able to utilise them in short burst with the Blues not being able to gain momentum. Other bench player, Harry Grant, will be hoping to have the same impact he did in the previous game, coming on for Ben Hunt and adding creativity to the game.

State of Origin Game Two Predictions:

Ethan Lee Chalk – New South Wales by 10 points (POTM: Nathan Cleary)

Lachlan Dand – New South Wales by 16 (POTM: Brian To’o)

Michael Algeri – New South Wales by 2 (POTM: Apisai Koroisau)

Dominic Criniti – New South Wales by 22 (POTM: Nathan Cleary)

William Makepeace – New South Wales by 12 (POTM: Cameron Murray)

Brandon Patane – New South Wales by 4 (POTM: Brian To’o)

Kye Ferreira – New South Wales by 8 (POTM: Api Koriosau)

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