Jack Bird and James Maloney will lead the way when they team up in the halves for the Prime Ministers XIII team to play PNG in Port Moresby on Saturday.
The pair were a part of the squad which arrived in PNG to a hero’s welcome yesterday, with 1,000’s of fans turning out to greet their rugby league idols.
Along with Bird and Maloney, Valentine Holmes, Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita will also represent the PM’s team, with all having the opportunity to push for World Cup selection with strong performances this weekend.
New Sharks recruit Josh Dugan, who joins the Cronulla club in 2018, will also turn out for the PM’s XIII.
With no Johnathan Thurston due to his season-ending shoulder injury, Australian Coach Mal Meninga will be on the lookout for a new halves partner for Cooper Cronk for the World Cup campaign, with Maloney amongst the front runners to take over the position.
Also arriving in Port Moresby was a Jillaroos squad, one which will unfortunately be without Ruan Sims, with the Australian, NSW and Sharks Women’s team captain suffering from the flu and unable to make the trip.
Sharks Women’s Series squad member and rugby league rookie Jess Stergis has been selected for the Jillaroos and will get her chance to impress in top company in their match against the PNG Orchids team.
Joining her in the Australian squad will be Sharks teammates Corban McGregor and international debutant Talesha Quinn.
In relation to the Australian PM’s squad, the late withdrawal of Josh Papalli has seen Corey Norman from the Eels brought in as a late replacement.
Game day at PNG’s National Football Stadium will begin with an under-16s match between a Rugby League Young Achiever’s squad and a PNG Select side, The Jillaroos will then take on the PNG national women’s team, before the annual PNG Kumuls and Prime Minister's XIII clash.
Australian Prime Minister's XIII squad
1. James Tedesco (Wests Tigers)
2. Dane Gagai (Newcastle Knights)
3. Josh Dugan (St George-Illawarra Dragons)
4. Tom Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
5. Valentine Holmes (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)*
6. Jack Bird (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)*
7. James Maloney (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
8. Aaron Woods (c) (Wests Tigers)
9. Api Koroisau (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)*
10. Andrew Fifita (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)*
11. Tyson Frizell (St George-Illawarra Dragons)
12. Wade Graham (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
13. Jake Trbojevic (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
14. Corey Norman (Parramatta Eels)
15. David Klemmer (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
16. Dylan Walker (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)*
17. Josh Jackson (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
18. Paul Vaughan (St George-Illawarra Dragons)*
Harvey Norman Jillaroos PNG squad
Kezie Apps NSW
Chelsea Baker QLD
Maddison Bennett* WA
Annette Brander QLD
Ali Brigginshaw QLD
Vanessa Foliaki NSW
Steph Hancock QLD
Jenni-Sue Hoepper QLD
Kody House QLD
Amelia Kuk QLD
Renae Kunst QLD
Lucy Lockhart* Aust Defence Force
Corban McGregor NSW
Talesha Quinn* NSW
Jessica Sergis* NSW
Zahara Temara QLD
Sarah Walker* QLD
Elianna Walton NSW
Meg Ward* NT