Rugby League: NSW Country under 23s meet World Cup squads

HONOURS: Lakes back Kyle Kennedy will be one of nine Newcastle first graders representing NSW Country under 23s against World Cup sides Samoa and Scotland the next two Fridays. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
HONOURS: Lakes back Kyle Kennedy will be one of nine Newcastle first graders representing NSW Country under 23s against World Cup sides Samoa and Scotland the next two Fridays. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Kyle Kennedy has played alongside last year’s Newcastle Knights hooker Chris Adams and against the likes of former NRL trio Daniel Abraham, Brad Tighe and Dane Tilse.

But the next two Friday nights he will take his game to another level, squaring off with World Cup sides Samoa and Scotland.

The Lakes back will be one of nine Newcastle Rugby League players in the NSW Country under-23 squad lining up against more than 2000 combined NRL and English Super League matches.

“It gives them [under 23s] a great opportunity,” Country Rugby League chairman John Anderson said from the opening night of camp in Wagga Wagga on Tuesday.

“Playing against these types of teams there will be NRL clubs tuning in and at the ground to watch.” 

Most of that top-level experience comes from Samoa, who the boys from the bush meet at Wagga Wagga’s McDonald Park on Friday (7pm).

Outgoing Knights utility Peter Mata’utia, Canberra centre Joey Leilua, Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii, Parramatta forward Frank Pritchard and Newcastle-bound prop Herman Ese’ese were all named for Samoa for the upcoming clash.

Country trains on Wednesday before both sides join for a civic reception at the Riverina city on Thursday. 

Country then regroup in Sydney next Tuesday before flying to Ballina and meeting Scotland on October 20.

Scotland’s provisional squad included Cowboys grand finalists Lachlan Coote and Kane Linnett.

COUNTRY 23s: Jamie Ghoulmieh, Jacob Gagai, Kyle Kennedy (Lakes), Roman Fepulea’I, Jake Lawrence, Luke Higgins (South Newcastle), Jarrod Smith, Lincoln Smith (Maitland), Sam Keenan (Western Suburbs).