26 Jun 2014

Australia may be represented by the Sydney Roosters at the Rugby League Commonwealth Championship in Scotland this week but their squad is actually drawn from all over the mammoth country. The Australia RL decided to put a club side forward to play as the junior Kangaroos in their Under-19 Nines tournament, and with so many of the national Under-18 champion Townsville Stingers being selected for Queensland honours, New South Wales champions Sydney Roosters were invited instead.

Bernard Lewis, the 16-year-old full-back, hails from Cairns in Far North Queensland and plays for his local club there when not in Sydney with the Roosters. Winger Jack Murchie, who will be 17 tomorrow, is with Ulladulla Bulldogs, over 200km south of Sydney. Travis Edwards and Chad O’Donnell are from the area around Newcastle and play for Singleton and Maitland respectively. They remain affiliated to their junior clubs despite stepping up to the NSWRL competition with the Roosters.

“Following their win in the SG Ball Final, which is for Under-18s, these players will in some cases train or play with the Roosters’ Holden Cup team, which is Under-20s,” explained Australia team manager Gareth Holmes, the Elite Programs Manager for the NRL. “Others will remain in Sydney and play for a feeder Junior League club in the Roosters district.”

There are six New Zealand-born players in the Australia 15, most of which reside in Sydney, such as Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, brother of Roosters and Kiwi star Roger. Some split their time across the Tasman: Poasa Faamausili is from Auckland where he plays club football for Glenora Bears, back-rower Isaac Crichton is from Motootua and plays for Papukura Sea Eagles.

“The boys from New Zealand are eligible for Australia Under-19s through first representation and residence,” said Australia manager Holmes, who arrived with his team in Glasgowe yesterday. “All of these players will be hoping to represent the Roosters in the Holden Cup team either this year or be part of the pre-season for next year and hopefully be contracted with the club from there.”

In the RLCC2014 tournament at Cumbernauld’s Broadwood Stadium in North Lanarkshire, which is part of the Homecoming Scotland festival of events, Australia kick off in Group A on Friday afternoon against Jamaica before facing Wales and then the hosts, Scotland. They will all return the next day for the play-offs and semi-finals stage. Entry on both days is FREE.