The crowd will be slowly but surely filing into ANZ Stadium and the atmosphere will build as the NSW under 16’s, with three young Sharks in their squad, take on Queensland in a junior State of Origin clash.
Bronson Xerri, Franklin Pele and Isaac Longmuir will represent the junior Blues in a match kicking off at 5.50pm, at around about the same time the big boys will be making their way to the stadium to begin preparations for game one in the 2016 Origin series.
The trio were three of five Sharks, along with Kai Broadhurst and Cameron O’Connor, to be chosen in an extended squad before they were selected in the final 18-man NSW team for what promises to be the highlight game of their rugby league careers to date.
A powerful running centre, Xerri formed a potent partnership on the right hand side of the Sharks Matthews Cup teams’ attack with his winger O’Connor, with the Aquinas Colts product’s form and ability too impressive for Coach Brad Fittler and his NSW selectors to ignore.
In the forwards Pele was a tower of strength for the Under-16 Sharks throughout what was a spirited defence of their state and national titles and his strong charges are sure to provide Queensland with all they can handle in the 16’s Origin match up tonight.
As for Longmuir, his skill and competitiveness was pivotal to the Sharks success and despite being named on the NSW Interchange bench, Fittler has already indicated it won’t be too long into the game before the De La Salle Caringbah hooker is thrown into the contest.
Fittler had the following to say about the three Sharks boys in a preview article which appeared on NRL.com;
3. Bronson Xerri (Cronulla Sharks)
Bronson is from a football family, his older brother played in the lower grades for Cronulla, and he’s just a big strong kid at the moment, I think he’s got a huge future in the game.
10. Franklin Pele (Cronulla Sharks)
He’s just a big strong kid with plenty of skill who sort of reminds me of Andrew Fifita. They have the same style of play, not just running the ball up.
14. Isaac Longmuir (Cronulla Sharks)
Super skilful kid, he’ll get on early. He has a great pass, a really good footballer, and looks like he’s been playing footy since he was about two-months-old.
The NSW v Queensland Under 16’s match is scheduled to get underway at 5.50pm, with the NSWRL website showing a live stream of the match for those not heading out to ANZ Stadium.
See the live stream link following.
Lead photo – Bronson Xerri (centre) at NSW 16’s training
Below – Bronson Xerri, Isaac Longmuir and Franklin Pele, the three young Sharks set to take on Queensland tonight