Roost­ers to de­but as ri­vals in Aus­tralia-New Zealand Test

The Guardian Australia - - Front Page -

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.”

Pho­to­graph: Joel Car­rett/AAP

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.

Pho­to­graph: Dar­ren Eng­land/AAP

New Jil­la­roos cap­tain Ali Brig­gin­shawdur­ing train­ing ahead of Satur­day’s Testagainst New Zealand.

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