Benji Marshall, Johnathan Thurston possible headline players for Maori v Indigenous Australia clash

A proposed rugby league Test played between the New Zealand Maori and an Australian Indigenous side is reportedly on the cards for this year's representative weekend.

The Sydney Morning Herald report First Nations Goannas coach Laurie Daley and NZ Maori mentor Mark Horo came up with the idea for the two sides to clash later this year as part of the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League.

As part of the reported proposal, all State of Origin players who are not playing in Game II on Sunday 24 June will be available for selection by the Indigenous Australian side while Kiwi players not picked for the Kiwis' Test against England two days earlier will be available for the Maori.

That could see players such as Johnathan Thurston, Ash Taylor and Bevan Finch selected for the Australian outfit while the Maori side could have the likes of Benji Marshall, Kenny Bromwich and James Fisher-Harris at their disposal.

Daley told Stuff it would be terrific to add the encounter to the representative weekend.

"If they don't get picked for the test matches and the Origin side, there's an opportunity to get the rest of the best and play a game against each other.

"It would mean something. The [Indigenous] All Stars play the International All Stars at the start of the year but for the International All Stars, it doesn't mean a great deal. You play the Maori it would mean something. With our boys, there would be a rivalry."

Wests Tigers Benji Marshall.
Wests Tigers Benji Marshall. Source: Photosport


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'I think my parents are secret Broncos fans' - Rona Peters ready for sibling clash against Warriors women

Taking on two siblings and a sister-in-law will be tough enough for Kiwi-born Brisbane star Rona Peters in tonight's NRL Women's Premiership crunch clash with New Zealand's Warriors.

But it won't be as hard as what comes afterwards - telling her passionate Kiwi parents that she will pledge her allegiance to Australia.

Former Kiwi Ferns veteran Peters admitted to mixed feelings before lining up against sisters Hilda and Kahurangi as well as sister-in-law Laura Mariu at AAMI Park.

Warriors playmaker Mariu married Hilda earlier this year.

Another victory will guarantee Brisbane, the only undefeated team, a spot in next week's inaugural NRLW grand final - and knock her siblings' Warriors out of the title race.

"It's the first time I have played my sisters on such a big stage," said Peters.

Laura and Hilda Mariu spoke to Te Karere about their relationship and how they got into a physical altercation on the rugby league pitch. Source: Te Karere

"But what happens on the field, stays on the field. That's how I have to look at it.

"Besides I think my parents are secret Broncos fans."

Peters admitted she may not be as popular with her parents after she tells them her Test plans.

After representing the Kiwi Ferns over 12 years, Peters relocated to Queensland in 2015 and when signatures were called for the inaugural NRLW she pledged her allegiance to Brisbane and the Maroons.

Now the Broncos lock hopes to run out for the Jillaroos in their October 13 Test against her ex-team New Zealand in Auckland.

"It's a hard question but I will probably stay with the Jillaroos as much as I love my family," Peters said.

The Warriors bench celebrate as the final whistle sounds and the Warriors win. Roosters v Warriors, NRL Holden Women's Premiership.  ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 8th Sept 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
The Warriors bench celebrate as the final whistle sounds and the Warriors win over the Sydney Roosters. Source: Photosport

Asked how that will go down when she tells her parents, Peters said: "Probably not how I want it but my family are proud footy people so they will be happy with whatever jersey I wear."

Rona Peters during the Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns, Brisbane ,Australia on May 3, 2015. Copyright Photo: Patrick Hamilton/ www.Photosport.co.nz
Kiwi Ferns player Rona Peters in action against the Jilaroos in Brisbane. Source: Photosport

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Injured Mate Ma'a Tonga skipper Sika Manu ruled out of Kangaroos Test

Captain Sika Manu has been ruled out of Tonga's historic rugby league Test against Australia after suffering a season-ending knee injury.

He received the injury in Hull FC's UK Super League last-round loss to St Helens only days after coach Kristian Woolf named his initial 29-strong squad.

The 31-year-old back-rower has amassed 11 Tests for the Mate Ma'a since switching his allegiance from New Zealand in 2013.

But the former Melbourne and Penrith NRL forward will miss Tonga's first Test against the Kangaroos in Auckland on October 20.

"Sika is the latest member of our squad to be ruled out for the remainder of the season and it's gutting for us," Hull FC coach Lee Radford said.

"It's gutting for him, too, because he'll miss Tonga's game against Australia next month, which would have been a great experience for him."

Woolf still has his strongest Tonga squad at his disposal, with Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai resisting pledging his allegiance to Australia to spearhead the Mate Ma'a pack with Cronulla star Andrew Fifita and North Queensland's Jason Taumalolo.

Pangai had been toying with making himself available for NSW's State of Origin side next year.

Scott Sorensen - nephew of Kiwi greats Dane and Kurt Sorensen - is Tonga's latest convert after the Cronulla forward was named in the extended squad.

Sorensen will feature off the bench in the Sharks' Friday night preliminary final against Melbourne.

The 29-strong squad has a monster pack but also backline speed to burn, with Warriors' NRL top try-scorer David Fusitu'a, Parramatta's Michael Jennings, Canterbury's Will Hopoate, South Sydney winger Robert Jennings and the Sydney Roosters' Daniel Tupou included.

The final squad will be named next month before Woolf takes Tonga on a 10-day camp.

Tonga's Sika Manu celebrates the win. Kiwis v Tonga, Rugby League World Cup, FMG Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand. Saturday, 11 November, 2017. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz
Tonga's Sika Manu celebrates beating the Kiwis. Source: Photosport


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Cronulla veteran Paul Gallen ruled out of Sharks finals match against Storm

Cronulla will have to win their way to the NRL grand final without captain Paul Gallen after he was ruled out of Friday night's preliminary final against Melbourne with a shoulder injury.

The 37-year-old trained with the Sharks on Thursday and travelled to Melbourne with the team despite tearing tore ligaments in his shoulder during last week's one-point win over Penrith.

The Sharks had planned to give Gallen until midday on Friday to prove his fitness, but after further assessment on Thursday afternoon in Melbourne they made the call to end his race against the clock early.

However, they remain hopeful Gallen could return for next Sunday's grand final if the Sharks qualify.

"If it was a Sunday game I would say he'd be in," Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said earlier on Thursday.

"He definitely improved. He loves this club and has been there all his career. He'd do anything to get out on the field and get to another grand final."

Gallen's absence will come as a massive blow to the Sharks, who are already without fellow back-rower Wade Graham.

Gallen and Graham are among the best grinding players in the NRL, the exact style of play which the Sharks have used to beat Melbourne in four of their past five meetings.

The Storm had expected Gallen to play all week, and were still preparing as if that was the case in their final training session on Thursday morning.

Kangaroos forward Aaron Woods is now expected to come into Cronulla's starting side, while 166-game NRL veteran Joseph Paulo will join the Sharks' 17 for his first finals appearance.

Flanagan admitted Gallen would be difficult to replace.

"Gal is our captain and the way he plays is very similar to what we're all about," he said.

"He's tough and ruthless and he's our forward leader. Someone is going to come in and stand up and do the job, and hopefully as good as Gal."

Meanwhile, Josh Dugan is expected to overcome a shoulder injury to be fit to take his place on one wing.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Paul Gallen of the Sharks is tackled during the NRL semi-final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium on September 14, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Paul Gallen of the Sharks is tackled during the NRL semi-final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium. Source: Getty


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Sam Burgess likely to play semi after NRL boss says investigation into sexting scandal won't be rushed

South Sydney star Sam Burgess appears set to play in Saturday's grand final qualifier despite being involved in a sexting scandal that the NRL integrity unit is investigating.

The Rabbitohs were rocked last week by a woman's allegations that a social media account owned by Burgess was used to communicate lewd video of two players to her in May.

There were fears the matter would result in a player being suspended from the rest of this year's finals series, including their preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters.

However, NRL boss Todd Greenberg said while the case is expected to be finalised as soon as possible, he would not be rushed into a decision on potential bans.

"We've made a consistent approach to these things, we've been doing it for a number of years now," Greenberg said on Thursday.

"We'll deal with the details and issues in the investigation, we won't make decisions on the run."

Greenberg refused to address speculation that the woman, who is believed to have initially taken her concerns to the club before going public, is refusing to be interviewed by the integrity unit.

"I'm not going to comment specifically on who's being interviewed and who's not," he said.

"But I will say to you is for us to be able to land at a conclusion and complete the investigation it requires us to try our very hardest to talk to as many people as possible.

"And that's what the integrity unit are doing at the moment."

It is the second off-field incident to embarrass the NRL since the end of the regular season, with Canterbury being fined for their ill-advised Mad Monday behaviour.

Greenberg admitted the damaging headlines have taken the gloss off what has so far been one of the closest finals series in recent memory.

"I'd much prefer to be talking to you today about what will be a full house in Sydney at Allianz Stadium to farewell what's been a great stadium, and a full house in Melbourne," he said.

"But I'm also a realist.

"I understand that, from time to time, issues will come on our table and you will judge us on two things: on the issue itself and how we deal with it.

"We've got a pretty strong track record in rugby league and (as) an integrity unit, to deal with those issues methodically, professionally, appropriately and then hand a decision."

Sam Burgess of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Source: Photosport


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