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Sharks v Bulldogs: Cronulla pick young team; Cogger's half chance

It might be a trial but Saturday's historic clash between the Sharks and Bulldogs could garner the fanfare of a real NRL fixture thanks to the excited Port Moresby locals.

The game marks the first official NRL trial held in Papua New Guinea under a program supported by the Australian Government, with trials to be played in Pacific nations in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Cronulla smashed Canterbury in an NRL Nines pool match last weekend and the Bulldogs will want to exact revenge.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
    Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will Hopoate
  • Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Jayden Okunbor
  • Centre for Sharks is number 3 Jackson Ferris
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Reimis Smith
  • Centre for Sharks is number 4 Vito Tevaga
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Morgan Harper
  • Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Jake Averillo
  • Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Connor Tracey
    Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Lachlan Lewis
  • Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Braydon Trindall
    Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Jack Cogger

Forwards

  • Prop for Sharks is number 8 Toby Rudolf
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Renouf To'omaga
  • Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Cameron King
    Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Sione Katoa
  • Prop for Sharks is number 10 Royce Hunt
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Dylan Napa
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Scott Sorensen
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Joe Stimson
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Siosifa Talakai
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Dean Britt
  • Lock for Sharks is number 13 Billy Magoulias
    Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Aiden Tolman

Interchange

  • Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Teig Wilton
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Brandon Wakeham
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Kyle Paterson
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Ofahiki Ogden
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Kayleb Milne
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Tuipulotu Katoa
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Connor Luhan
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Isaiah Tass

Reserves

  • Reserve for Sharks is number 18 Franklin Pele
    Reserve for Bulldogs is number 19 Bailey Biondi-Odo
  • Reserve for Sharks is number 19 Thomas Hazelton
    Reserve for Bulldogs is number 20 Matt Doorey
  • Reserve for Sharks is number 20 Wesley Lolo
    Reserve for Bulldogs is number 21 James Roumanos
  • Reserve for Sharks is number 21 Jonaiah Lualua
    Reserve for Bulldogs is number 22 Kerrod Holland
  • Reserve for Sharks is number 22 Lorenzo Mulitalo
    Reserve for Bulldogs is number 23 Jackson Topine
  • Reserve for Sharks is number 23 Brock Gray
    Reserve for Bulldogs is number 24 Kayne Kalache

The rundown

Team news

Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Jayden Okunbor 3. Reimis Smith 4. Morgan Harper 5. Jake Averillo 6. Lachlan Lewis 7. Jack Cogger 8. Renouf To’omaga 9. Sione Katoa 10. Dylan Napa 11. Joe Stimson 12. Dean Britt 13. Aiden Tolman 14. Brandon Wakeham 15. Ofahiki Ogden 16. Tui Katoa 17. Isaiah Tass 19. Bailey Biondi-Odo 20. Matt Doorey 21. James Roumanos 22. Kerrod Holland 23. Jackson Topine 24. Kayne Kalache

The Bulldogs have chosen a very strong 24-man squad including stars Will Hopoate, Dylan Napa, Aiden Tolman and Reimis Smith and prized recruits Joe Stimson and Dean Britt.

Jack Cogger looks to have the inside running for the halfback role having been named in the No.7

Sharks: Billy Magoulias, William Kennedy, Brock Gray, Jonaiah Lualua, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Franklin Pele, Jackson Ferris, Teig Wilton, Royce Hunt, Kyle Paterson, Tom Hazelton, Connor Tracey, Cameron King, Sione Katoa, Wesley Lolo, Vito Tevaga, Lorenzo Mulitalo, Kayleb Milne, Braydon Trindall, Scott Sorensen, Siosifa Talakai, Toby Rudolf, Connor Luhan

The Sharks have opted to give experience to youngers, picking mostly fringe players as well as first-graders Ronaldo Mulitalo, Billy Magoulias, Toby Rudolf, Scott Sorensen, Sione Katoa and Cameron King.

The squads will touch down in PNG a few days before the match to promote social inclusion, participation, equality and health and well-being.

Injured veteran Josh Dugan will travel with the squad to help spread the rugby league gospel in a country obsessed with game.

“Josh is a marquee player, not just at the Sharks but throughout the NRL and his presence will have a huge impact on the locals we come into contact with in PNG,” Sharks general manager of football Phil Moss said.

“It is an important role for him to play, he is an extremely popular figure amongst the locals and the PNG rugby league fraternity and having him attend some of the community events and initiatives we have planned will be well received.”

Casualty ward

Cronulla Sharks: Bronson Xerri is still recovering from a shoulder reconstruction. Andrew Fifita withdrew from the All Stars squad due to fitness concerns as he works his way back from knee surgery. Jesse Ramien, Wade Graham and Briton Nikora are on All Stars duty.

Canterbury Bulldogs: A host of Bulldogs are unavailable including captain Josh Jackson (fractured nose), Jeremy Marshall-King (shoulder), Adam Elliott (ankle), Marcelo Montoya (knee), Sauaso Sue (knee), Kieran Foran (shoulder), Raymond Faitala-Mariner (syndesmosis) and Christian Crichton (knee). Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Corey Harawira-Naera are on All Stars duty.

The big question

Cronulla Sharks: Who replaces Paul Gallen and Matt Prior? The battle for places in the pack is heating up, with Billy Magoulias and Jack Williams fighting for the No.13 jumper vacated by Gallen. Magoulias has the first chance to impress with Williams not travelling to PNG. Meanwhile, the likes of Toby Rudolf, Teig Wilton and Braydon Trindall will be out to make cases for bench spots.

Five key match-ups of the Sharks' 2020 draw

Canterbury Bulldogs: Who replaces Kieran Foran? With the established playmaker sidelined by a long-term shoulder injury, a halves slot is open alongside Lachlan Lewis. If this team list is anything to go by, Cogger has edged in front of Brandon Wakeham for round one.

Five key match-ups of the Bulldogs' 2020 draw