NRL star James Tedesco struck down with mumps ahead of Roosters pre-season clash with Manly

Prized recruit James Tedesco might be racing the clock to be fit for a Sydney Roosters pre-season debut after reportedly becoming the second player at the NRL club to contract mumps.

Tedesco is not expected to be considered for the Roosters' opening trial on Saturday night away to Penrith.

And he might battle to prove his fitness for the Roosters' final trial - against Manly next week on the NSW central coast - after being quarantined from teammates, NRL.com reports.

The NSW State of Origin fullback is not expected to miss the Roosters' season opener on March 10 against his former Wests Tigers club.

Roosters back-rower Mitchell Aubusson contracted mumps two weeks ago.

Coach Trent Robinson will name his squad on Thursday for Saturday's Panthers trial.

Former Rooster James Maloney will make his Penrith debut, combining with Nathan Cleary in the halves for the first time.

James Tedesco of NSW attacks during game 1 of the State of Origin rugby league, Queensland Reds v New South Wales, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia. 31 May 2017. Copyright Image: Tertius Pickard / www.photosport.nz
James Tedesco. Source: Photosport


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Kangaroos not focused on claiming historic 14th straight win in clash with Kiwis

Mal Meninga's Kangaroos have a chance to etch their names in the rugby league annals over the next few years.

Australia are searching for their 14th-straight Test win on Saturday when they take on New Zealand in what shapes as the turning of a new leaf at Mt Smart Stadium.

Victories over the Kiwis and Tonga over the next fortnight would see the Aussies enter rarefied air.

Not since 2011-14, when they strung together 16 wins under Tim Sheens, has the side experienced a period of sustained success.

And should they keep the roll going, they will have in their cross hairs the 17-game winning run which the side experienced under the great Frank Stanton from 1979-83.

That period included the famous "Invincibles" Kangaroos Tour of England and France in 1982, of which a young Meninga was a part.

And while Meninga is a student of the game's history, he wouldn't comment on where the current side stood in it.

"We don't talk about it; we don't think about it at all," Meninga said of the side's winning streak.

"Thirteen could be lucky or unlucky. I don't know."

The Kangaroos' 13-game winning streak began when he took over in 2016.

While the team has looked unbeatable under his watch, it shouldn't be forgotten he took over from Sheens at a time when the side was in a lull after back-to- back losses to the Kiwis.

Since 2006, Meninga has forged a resume which stands shoulder-to-shoulder with any other coach in the game's history - having won 33 of 43 games while in charge of Queensland and Australia.

Meninga is facing one of the biggest tests of his decorated representative coaching career over the next few years as he attempts to guide the side after the exit of a golden generation.

Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater are all gone and Meninga must nurture a new breed.

"We don't talk about the dawn of a new era; we don't talk about lost players that might have been in this footy team," Meninga said.

"It's about being a Kangaroo and the expectations of a Kangaroo."

The Australian side are the current World Cup champions and play Tonga next week in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS


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'The fans will come on board' - Kiwis unconcerned with being overshadowed by Tonga

New Zealand say their fate lies in their owns hands as they face up to being overshadowed by Tonga in their own backyard.

Heading into tomorrow's Test against Australia at Mt Smart Stadium, the Kiwis have a fight on their hands for the hearts and minds of the New Zealand rugby league public.

A week out from Australia's clash with Tonga, Mate Ma'a fever has swept through Auckland.

Some streets around Mt Smart Stadium are lined with Tongan flags and houses decked out in red and white.

Team spirit in the Tongan camp is sky high, as the team welcomes their new assistant coach into the fold. Source: 1 NEWS

After the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita and Tevita Pangai Junior turned their backs on representing tier one nations to turn out for Tonga, the Mate Ma'a have received a groundswell of support on the back of their World Cup heroics.

The Kiwis on the other hand have been marred by a string of bad performances and questions are being posed about their culture after Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor's illicit drugs scandal following last year's Anzac Test in Canberra.

New skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak said it was up to the side to win back the support of the New Zealand public and believed winning would achieve that goal.

"If we can do it for each other then the fans will just come on board and ride the wave with us," Watene-Zelezniak said.

Despite their flight being delayed a few hours from Sydney the Tongan fans showed their support at Vodafone Events centre in Manukau. Source: 1 NEWS

"The focus is on us and what we do and the fans will follow that."

The NZRL are hopeful of a crowd of 15,000 for tomorrow's Test while Mt Smart is expected to be at its capacity of 25,000 the following week for Australia-Tonga.

Asked about the looming threat posed by the Mate Ma'a, Watene-Zelezniak said: "I'm not too upset because I'm Tongan as well.

The Pacific powerhouse are in town ahead of next week's clash with the Kangaroos. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's a good thing for the game. The Tongan people are prideful about their country and where they come from.

"It's just going to build and build and hopefully we can return the favour with our fans."

The Tongan winger said the Mate Ma'a Tonga fans made the Rugby League World Cup in 2017 a success. Source: 1 NEWS


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'I'm Tongan as well' – Kiwis captain praises Auckland Mate Ma'a Tonga supporters

The fanatical support for Mate Ma'a Tonga from the Auckland community hasn't gone unnoticed by the Kiwis, relishing the impact the fans are having on the international rugby league window.

With the Tongan side having arrived in New Zealand this week ahead of next week's Test with the Kangaroos in Auckland, thousands of fans have again turned out to show their support for the Pacific powerhouses, while the match itself is on course for a sellout.

Despite their flight being delayed a few hours from Sydney the Tongan fans showed their support at Vodafone Events centre in Manukau. Source: 1 NEWS

Speaking to media in Auckland today, Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak said that his side aren't being distracted by the Tongan supporters.

Team spirit in the Tongan camp is sky high, as the team welcomes their new assistant coach into the fold. Source: 1 NEWS

"(It's) not too bad because I'm Tongan as well," he joked.

"It's a good thing for the game. As Mal (Meninga) was talking about, having games back here.

"The Tongan people, are prideful about their country, and where they come from, and I feel it's a good thing for the game.

Despite their flight being delayed a few hours from Sydney the Tongan fans showed their support at Vodafone Events centre in Manukau. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's just going to build and build, and hopefully we can return the favour with our fans doing the same."

The Pacific powerhouse are in town ahead of next week's clash with the Kangaroos. Source: 1 NEWS


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'The expectations are the same' - Kangaroos play down rebuilding tag before facing Kiwis

Mal Meninga has shrugged off the suggestion Australia are set to go through a rebuild, insisting there's no reason why their reign of domination shouldn't continue over the rugby league world.

The Kangaroos will be missing 231 games of Test experience through a mixture of representative retirement, injuries and suspension when they take on New Zealand at Mt Smart Stadium tomorrow.

Despite the departure of four potential future Immortals in Cameron Smith (56 Tests), Cooper Cronk (38), Johnathan Thurston (38) and Billy Slater (30), Meninga is refusing to see it as a new era.

Also absent from the side which won last year's World Cup final are Matt Gillett (12), Wade Graham (6) and Michael Morgan (12) while Greg Inglis (39) will miss the tour through suspension.

Australia's 17-man squad has a total of 106 Tests between them, making them the most inexperienced Kangaroos squad since 2003.

Tomorrow's Test against the Kiwis will be just the second time since 2006 that an Australian side hasn't included Smith.

Despite featuring four debutants in James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Luke Keary and Damien Cook, Meninga said there was no reason for their 13-game unbeaten streak to end.

"The expectations are the same," Meninga said.

"It's not because we've lost players, we've got new players stepping up. That's what our focus has been.

"It's the same expectations as anyone putting on the green and gold jersey in the 110-years of our history. We want to make sure we play really well and they come off the field happy with their performance."

The Kiwis are similarly without nine players from their World Cup quarter-final loss to Fiji, including skipper and Dally M winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Key players Issac Luke and Tohu Harris will be missing through injury as well.

Coach Michael Maguire, who faces the biggest test of his new reign, said he was refusing to buy into the Kangaroos invincible aura.

"A lot of that has to do with what we do, what we do when we go away from the field," Maguire said.

"That's the key to anything, it comes down to our preparation, our practice, the connections that we have.

"Our main goal at the moment is who we are. I've started on a journey with these boys and it's a real honour to be sitting in the seat."

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga speaks with Cameron Smith and Sam Thaiday.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga speaks with Cameron Smith and Sam Thaiday. Source: Getty


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