Historically Australia has dominated New Zealand in Trans-Tasman touch, but New Zealand is closing the gap and the Kiwis are hoping youthful exuberance can overcome Australian experience in the three-test series over the weekend on the Sunshine Coast.
In 2016, New Zealand won the second-test and narrowly lost the series 2-1, the best result in many years. New Zealand have picked seven players under 20 for the 2017 rematch and Under-18 wing Tarkyn Loloselo is hopeful of big things.
“We have done a lot of analysis of the Australians and feel like we are well prepared for the challenge. Australia is older than us, but if we don’t panic we can beat them,” he believes.
The 60-man training squad selected earlier this year has been culled to 16. Loloselo is one of four wings in the team earning his place after a strong showing in the Under-18 Trans-Tasman series.
“We lost that series 3-0, but I learned a lot from that experience. Australia played with great composure. They are workhorses. Even when they were behind they were the calm ones and we were screaming at each other. If we keep our cool we will compete.” Loloselo reflects.
Loloselo has been playing touch for nine years. He attends St. Peter’s College in Auckland where he is a perfect. In 2016 he was a member of the Counties Manukau team that won the National Championships.
“That was a real highlight. We beat Waikato in the final which doesn’t happen very often. It was great to represent my hometown in Christchurch where many of us had never been before.” Loloselo accl
Loloselo believes speed and communication are his greatest assets on the field, something New Zealand won’t be short of.
“Michael Kavanagh, Mita Graham and Connor Pamatatau are our most experinced players. Mita and Michael share the captaincy and Connor is real good with his fast foot work and creating plays.” Loloselo says.
Raiki Willison and Josh Duff are the other Under-18 rookies in the team. Willison plays in the middle and Duff is the best player in his age group in Otago.
Loloselo’s favourite touch player is former National rep Luke Chapman. New Zealand also plays Japan in a warm-up test on Thursday. All matches are at the Sunshine Coast Stadium at Kawana Waters. The Touch World Championships are in Malaysia in 2019, another benefit of New Zealand selecting a young squad.
2017 Open Trans Tasman Game Times (NZT)
Game One – Friday, 12 May
7:00pm – Australia vs New Zealand Mixed Open
8:10pm – Australia vs New Zealand Women’s Open
9:20pm – Australia vs New Zealand Men’s Open
Game Two – Saturday, 13 May
5:00pm – Australia vs New Zealand Mixed Open
6:00pm – Australia vs New Zealand Women’s Open
7:00pm – Australia vs New Zealand Men’s Open
Game Three – Sunday, 15 May
12:00pm – Australia vs New Zealand Mixed Open
1:00pm – Australia vs New Zealand Women’s Open
2:00pm – Australia vs New Zealand Men’s Open
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