Rick Stone’s Fiji team is a firm favourite to win their Test match against the Papua New Guinea Kumuls on Saturday night, but that isn’t something the Newcastle Knights head coach will be putting any emphasis on.
“I don’t know where they get the odds from to be honest,” he grinned at a press conference on Friday morning.
“Looking at both teams we’ve got a lot of young players that are really untried at this level.”
“We’ve got a group of players that have played for Fiji before, but both teams have a sprinkling of players that are playing or have just come out of NYC.”
Amongst those young players are twins Daniel and Jacob Saifiti, who have both been named in the starting side against the Kumuls.
The Saifiti twins have played every game for the Newcastle Knights NYC side this season, and have impressed Stone enough to earn their first international call-ups.
“The Saifiti twins are turning nineteen today, they’re only young boys in their first year of NYC and this is a significant step,” Stone explained.
“It’ll be interesting to see whether those players will step up in a Test environment.”
While there are plenty of young players, there is also a nucleus of more experienced men who went to the 2013 World Cup with Stone that includes the likes of Korbin Sims and Kevin Naiqama.
“We’ve got a core group of players that have played together a lot, and each time we come back into camp we seem to slip into a groove quickly,” he explained.
“We have a training session this morning so we’ll get through that and get ready for tomorrow night, and if it’s not raining I think you’ll see a good brand of footy from both teams.”