A large crowd gathered at the Auckland International Airport yesterday afternoon (Sunday 17 July) to see the Junior Kiwis set off for Sydney, Australia and the team obliged the support with a fantastic and heartfelt haka.
A very strong touring side who have set their sites on achieving 3 wins while away.
An added incentive for the success of the team is in their dedicating the 2005 tour to recently passed on National League players Ben Valeni from North Harbour Tigers and Paulo Teniseli from Mount Albert Lions. A number of the JK�s players have played alongside these two men and 7 boys were also coached and taught at De La Salle College by Mr Valeni, so means a great deal to the team to be able to show their respect in this manner.
Head Coach, Tony Benson, who has coached the JK�s since 2003 is thrilled to this year have the luxury of a trial match which was held at Kings College in Auckland, to select his squad which was very tough and showed the skill and talent NZ currently has in this age group.
Seventeen of the 21 man squad are currently signed with NRL clubs including Brisbane Broncos player Greg Eastwood who has been named 18th man twice for the Broncos first grade team before recently joining the Junior Kiwis.
Their first encounter will be a warm up game against the Sydney Roosters Development Squad at Wentworth Park Greyhound Complex tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday 19 July 2005) kicking of at 3.00pm (5.00pm NZ time).
Benson will certainly not be taking the Roosters team lightly but it will allow him the opportunity to try player combinations and set plays before taking on the Australian Schoolboys in a two test series.
�The boys have really gelled and come together over the last week or so which gives us a good feeling about the tour.� Said Benson.
The full squad of 21 will be having a run against the Sydney Roosters and team is as follows:
Matthew Parata Marvin Filipo Miguel Start Joshua Davis Iwi Hauraki Daniel O�Regan Issac Luke Sam Rapira Darin Kingi Roger Tafua Frank-Paul Nuuausala Scott Jones Steve Rapira Mataika Vatuvei Duan Poaneki Alistair Taua�a Viliami Manu Cooper Vuna Benjamin Te�o Greg Eastwood Sonny Fa�i
Sam Rapira from the Waicoa Bay Stallions, who is also playing alongside younger brother Steve has been named as the 2005 Junior Kiwis Captain and Otahuhu Ellerslie�s Cooper Vuna will fulfill the Vice-Captain�s role.