Roosters to debut as rivals in Australia-New Zealand Test
Latrell Mitchell can’t guarantee he’ll spare good friend Joseph Manu from a verbal onslaught when the Roosters centre pairing go head-to-head in the trans-Tasman Test.
One of the highlights of Saturday’s clash in Auckland will be the meeting of dynamic Kangaroos firebrand Mitchell and rising Kiwis star Manu, who played key roles in the Roosters’ premiership.
Both are making their international debut in what will test the bonds of friendship forged through the junior ranks of the Sydney club.
Kangaroos fullback James Tedesco can’t wait to see his club mates lock horns, believing two of rugby league’s brightest talents bring with them contrasting styles.
Quietly-spoken Manu has been a kingpin on defence throughout 2018 while Mitchell’s attack was virtually peerless, along with his ability to impose himself mentally on opponents through verbal and extra-physical means.
A prime example was his dominance over accomplished Melbourne Storm opposite Will Chambers in the grand final and during the State of Origin series.
“I don’t think Latrell will be carrying on too much against Joey because Joey’s too nice but we’ll see how they go,” Tedesco said.
However, 21-year-old Mitchell wasn’t so sure he will contain himself, especially given how much it means to wear green and gold for the first time.
Mitchell will be one of four debutants for the Kangaroos, joining Roosters teammates Tedesco and Clive Churchill winner five-eighth Luke Keary, with South Sydney and NSW rake Cook also making his Test debut.
“I don’t want to say too much. I don’t like to talk about how it will be at the weekend,” said Mitchell.
“I’m competitive, he’s going to be competitive. Aggression just comes out. People take it as being grubby or what-not but it’s just how I play.
“I just want to beat my opponent at the other end.”
Mitchell said texts have been exchanged but he wasn’t keen to show too much “respect”.
There will be few secrets between the pair given they’ve trained against each other for so long.
“We’ve pretty much shown each other all year what we can do.
“It’s an awesome achievement for both of us and I’m really honoured and keen to go up against a good mate.”
New Jillaroos captain Ali Brigginshaw will also draw on mateship as she prepares to captain Australia for the first time on Saturday.
Broncos halfback Brigginshaw said she would follow the example set by her idol and retired great Karyn Murphy, who also just happens to be the Jillaroos assistant coach.
Brigginshaw will lead the Australian women’s rugby league team for the first time after replacing injured skipper Sam Bremner (broken toe).
The Jillaroos captaincy capped a stellar season for the Brisbane skipper who steered the Broncos to the maiden NRL Women’s Premiership title, going through the inaugural season undefeated.
Brigginshaw felt for Bremner and hoped to do the St George Illawarra fullback proud but admitted another Jillaroos captain would provide her motivation on Saturday – Murphy.
The Broncos star said simply having Murphy on the support staff was an inspiration ahead of her Jillaroos captaincy debut.
Murphy played 27 Tests including 17 as skipper before her 2014 retirement. The Karyn Murphy Medal for player of the NRLW grand final is named in her honour.
“I can’t go past Karyn Murphy. She is a great leader and just having her here now she is helping me out and showing me how it works – I will always look up to her,” Brigginshaw said of the 2013 World Cup winning skipper.
“She doesn’t necessarily talk too much, just leads by example on the field, which is something I plan to do.
“I am not the loudest talker but I will definitely lead the way on the field.”
Brigginshaw was still buzzing from getting the captaincy news at their Brisbane camp from Jillaroos coach Brad Donald before the team flew into Auckland on Tuesday.
“Brad just pulled me aside (at camp) ... I wasn’t sure what he was going to say but he said ‘you have had a great year and I am excited to let you know you will be captaining the side’,” she said.
“It just felt really humbling that he was able to see how much hard work I have put in.”
Joseph Manu and Latrell Mitchell seated side-by-side during the Sydney Roosters NRL grandfinal celebrations. The two will go head-to-head as the Australian Kangaroos take on the NewZealand Kiwis.
New Jillaroos captain Ali Brigginshawduring training ahead of Saturday’s Testagainst New Zealand.