​Country under-23s representative coach Josh Cale wary of Samoans

The Country under-23 side met up with some former NRL stars including Brett Kimmorley and Rod SIlva during a training camp in Sydney.
The Country under-23 side met up with some former NRL stars including Brett Kimmorley and Rod SIlva during a training camp in Sydney.

COUNTRY under-23s representative coach Josh Cale is bracing his side for an all-out assault from Samoa at Wagga’s McDonalds Park on Friday.

With positions in the World Cup opener up for grabs, Cale expects the opposition to be fierce in their final dress rehearsal.

Josh Papalii, Frank Pritchard and Joey Leilua headline the Matt Parish-coached line-up.

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS: Josh Cale issues instructions to his players during training at Wagga. Picture: COURTNEY REES

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS: Josh Cale issues instructions to his players during training at Wagga. Picture: COURTNEY REES

“They are going to be a big and fast side,” Cale said.

“They have 1700 games of NRL experience between the squad so it’s going to be hard work.

“Our guys are looking forward to it as it’s not every day they will get a chance to test themselves like this.

“Hopefully they can put a really good case forward and some opportunities come out of it.”

The Country under-23s went into camp in Sydney last weekend with Cale impressed by the side’s attitude.

“The whole under-23 concept is really good as they are all switched on and keen,” he said.

“A lot of them have been in system.

“We’ve been lucky to get this group together.”

Albury Thunder forward Levi Freeman’s younger brother, Tori, will play for the Country under-23s.

Papalii was overlooked by coach Mal Meninga for the Australian side last week after pulling out of the Prime Minister’s XIII side to play Papua New Guinea due to the death of his grandfather.

“I wasn’t expecting to make the team,” Papalii said.

“Obviously I couldn’t go on the PM’s trip to Papua New Guinea and I think there were a lot more players in form than myself.

“In saying that it gives me the opportunity to come to a second tier nation and hopefully I can put my best foot forward to help Samoa try and at least crack the semis.”

The match gets underway at 7pm.

In the curtain-raisers, Albury Thunder’s  Jeremy Hampton will play for Ben Jeffery’s Group 9 Indigenous against Group 20 at 5pm.

Albury’s Haylee and Jess McDonell are lining up for Riverina women’s 9s against Western at 4.15pm and Jeremy Wiscombe and Rhys Mitsch are playing for the under-17s against Monaro at 3pm.