With plenty of Bulldogs taking part in the upcoming Representative Round, bullodgs.com.au take a look at the five questions facing our players.
1. Who will standout over the rep weekend?
A total of 10 Bulldogs players will take part in the Rep Round, including – Greg Eastwood (New Zealand), Sam Kasiano, Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Samoa), Tony Williams (Tonga), Tyrone Phillips (Fiji), Brad Abbey, Reimis Smith(Junior Kiwis), Makahesi Makatoa, Reubenn Rennie (Cook Islands) and Richard Coorey (Lebanon). With opportunities aplenty for those selected and national pride well and truly on the line, expect all of these Bulldogs players to put their best foot forward. Greg Eastwood will lead the charge when the rep weekend kicks-off on Friday night as he will represent the Kiwis for the 25th time.
2. Mate against Mate?
It’s the tag-line that so many people often refer to State of Origin, but the upcoming match between Tonga and Samoa is a perfect example of what this means. Sam Kasiano and Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Samoa) will take on Bulldogs teammate Tony Williams (Tonga) in what promises to be another tough and gruelling contest. If it’s anything to go by what happened in 2015, then we will be treated to a brutal encounter. All three Bulldogs teammates will play in the forward pack and will cross paths on many occasions as they play for national pride in front of a very passionate crowd at Pirtek Stadium.
3. What will our Junior Kiwis get out of the experience?
Brad Abbey and Reimis Smith will get their first taste of International rugby league this weekend when they line-up for the Junior Kiwis on Saturday afternoon. Although it’s not played at the intensity of their superiors, the Junior Kiwis clash with the Junior Kangaroos has been a stepping stone for many of our current International stars. The Bulldogs duo have shown plenty promise in 2016 and will be looking to make an impression in their national colours.
4. Can New Zealand continue their dominance?
The Kiwis head into the Friday night’s test match with a new look side. Tohu Harris in the halves, debuts for Penrith wing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Parramatta forward Manu Ma’u, a new skipper in Jesse Bromwich and a host of stars missing due to a number of reasons, but they are the number one test side in the world. If New Zealand do beat Australia on Friday night, they'll become the first Kiwis side in 63 years to beat the Kangaroos four games in a row and could also possibly signal a changing of the guard in international rugby league.
5. What will the next instalment of Fiji v PNG provide?
After a historic, spirited and highly entertaining Test between Fiji and PNG for the first time in 2015 that saw Fiji hold on and win 22-10, the next instalment between these two proud nations is on show this weekend. Twelve months on and with a host of NRL stars lining up for Fiji, including Tyrone Phillips, Akuila Uate, Kevin Naiqama and Kane Evans will be looking to continue their rise on the international stage. Meanwhile their opponents Papua New Guinea, who feature many players from the PNG Hunters in the Intrust Super Cup will be looking to show why they are a nation on the rise as they build towards the 2017 World Cup.
2016 REPRESENTATIVE ROUND
May 6 – Harvey Norman Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns, Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
May 6 - Australia v New Zealand, Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
May 7 - Junior Kangaroos v Junior Kiwis, 3.15pm, Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
May 7 - Papua New Guinea Kumuls v Fiji Bati, 5.30pm, Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
May 7 - Mate Ma'a Tonga v Toa Samoa, 7.40pm, Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
May 8 - Cook Islands v Lebanon, 3pm, Belmore Sports Ground