Raiders World Cup Preview
Papua New Guinea: Kato Ottio and Kurt Baptiste.
With the Kumuls due to host their group matches it’s an exciting time for the country where Rugby League is the national sport. The Raiders could be represented by Utility Kurt Baptiste who has been strong from the interchange for the green machine in the past two seasons. Mounties try scoring machine Kato Ottio could also line up alongside his teammate despite not having made his NRL debut. The pair have three international appearances between them but both are strong candidates to make the final squad.
Australia: Josh Papalii and Shannon Boyd.
The Raiders destructive Forward pair have both had their 2017 season disrupted by injuries however their names will be strongly linked when a Kangaroos jersey is discussed for the world cup. Boyd burst onto the Kangaroos scene last year when he competed for the Australian side at last year’s four nations tournament in England whilst Papalii has been in and around the side since making his debut in 2013. Boyd is an outside chance of being named in Mal Meninga’s side while Papalii will be looking to prove himself in the upcoming PM XIII clash against PNG in Port Moresby.
Samoa: Joey Leilua, Junior Paulo and Erin Clark.
Leilua has been a regular in the Samoa side since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup whilst the 2017 Meninga Medallist Paulo was first named for the Samoan side in 2014 but did not make his first appearance until 2016. Raiders NYC Hooker/Halfback Erin Clark has been previously capped by Toa Samoa when he made two appearances in 2016 against Fiji and Tonga. Clark’s versatility puts him in a strong position to be named in coach Matt Parish’s side while Paulo would be expected to be named at starting Prop with Leilua in the Centres.
England: Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson.
Hodgson and Whitehead will both be crucial if Wayne Bennett’s side are to have a chance of glory at the world cup. England will have it tough when they open their Rugby League world cup campaign against Australia in Melbourne on the 27th October. Hodgson will be pivotal at Hooker whilst Whitehead has shown that he can be utilised as a Lock or at Second row.
New Zealand: Joe Tapine and Jordan Rapana.
Rapana looks set to star for New Zealand on the Wing and will be a huge asset for Dave Kidwell’s side. Tapine was a member of the Kiwi’s four nations squad that toured England at the end of 2016 however the young Raider missed out on selection for this year’s ANZAC Test. Tapine’s form for the Raiders towards the backend of the 2017 season certainly will have not gone unnoticed and the youngster will be a strong contender for selection.
Fiji: Mikaele Ravalawa
The recently crowned Raiders NYC player of the year could be a surprise selection for Fiji Bati. The talented outside back has had a strong first season since switching over from 7's rugby this year. Comfortable in the Centres or on the wing, Ravalawa was a huge asset for Brett White in the NYC competition this year.