Teenage Broncos sensation David Fifita is set to feature for Australia on day one of the 2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Championships which kick off at Redcliffe’s Dolphin Oval on Friday.
The 17-year-old schoolboy star was a standout for the Broncos in the club’s opening trial of the season against CQ Capras and he will be one of Australia’s key men in the exhibition nine-a-side tournament.
There are hopes that rugby league nines will be part of the Commonwealth Games program in the future and this two-day tournament, featuring 17 teams in men’s under 23s, women’s and physical disability sections, will showcase what the sport has to offer.
The Australian men’s under 23 side will be coached by former Roosters and Maroons star Adrian Lam with fellow former Queensland representative Michael Hagan an assistant.
“Nines is a faster, shorter version of the game and a bit like T20 cricket I think there is going to be even more of an appetite for it down the track,” Hagan told NRL.com.
“I know the nines in the last few years in Auckland has been highly successful and they are talking about nines as part of the international calendar going forward.
“It is going to be fast and the boys will be under pressure at certain times but hopefully it will be pretty entertaining by the same token.”
After a training session watching Fifita, Hagan said he liked the look of the mobile back-rower who is under contract with Brisbane until the end of 2020.
“He certainly is a quality athlete and there are plenty of good judges saying he has a big future so he is going to be one of the key guys up front for us,” Hagan said.
“David is athletic with plenty of footwork and skill and they are all good qualities to have in any football team, and in nines even more so.”
Broncos speedster Corey Allan will also provide plenty of pace for the side.
“There is plenty of pace in the group and Corey is one of those and Luke Sharpe from the Wyong Roos is really quick,” Hagan said.
The Australian men’s side will play Wales, Scotland and Fiji on day one with the blockbuster clash between Tonga and Samoa kicking off the day’s action.
Hagan spoke to NRL.com after an hour’s training session in the driving rain at Dolphin Oval on Thursday afternoon
“It is a pretty short preparation with some of the players arriving last night and some this morning,” he said.
“It has been a crash course in getting to know each other and set the standards for the weekend.
“They all come from different backgrounds and different NRL clubs and feeder clubs and this is a great opportunity for them to put the green and gold on.”
Australia men’s under 23 side: Corey Allan, Jade Anderson, Michael Carroll, Conor Carey, David Fifita, Josh Fauid, Harry Grant, Luke Huth, Paul Momirovski, Jack Murchie, Nathan Watts, Ky Rodwell, Hayden Schwass, Luke Sharpe, Kotoni Staggs.