The stand-alone representative round is upon us with a host of NRL players set to play for their countries and states with pride this weekend.
The 2019 NRL representative round features women's and men's State of Origin matches and tests involving New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa, Lebanon and Fiji.
I've got to mention Melbourne Storm with 15 players on show this week. What an achievement, this must be some record!
I know for a fact that the Storm don't hold back their players wanting to play rep and it is a great reward for their form.
NRL is the greatest game of all – that’s my opinion anyway.
This Representative Round speaks volumes in embracing a wider audience – taking State of Origin to Perth for the first time, expansion talks of a second team in Brisbane.
The second game for women's State of Origin – that was one of my favourite games last year. If you think the men were tougher, I beg to differ.
There was no shortage of big hits in that game. NSW won the inaugural Women’s State of Origin last year.
NRL representative round to witness rise of the Tongans
It was a first for a lot of things for the Mate Ma'a Tonga team in the last couple of years. If you remember the 2017 world cup where they beat New Zealand in the quarter finals (the first time Tonga have beaten a tier one nation) and were a second away from pulling off the biggest upset of the semi-final against England to make the World Cup final but wasn't to be.
In 2018 they earned the right to play Australia for the first time ever.
The sea of red fans at Mount Smart stadium in New Zealand was inspiring. All the Tongan fans sang their national anthem with pride and backed up by singing the Australian National Anthem after, which surprised a lot of the Australian players that night.
I might be biased but my match of the round is the Mate Ma'a Tonga v New Zealand game. Do yourself a favour and tune in before the kick off for the New Zealand Haka and the Tongan Sipi Tau (war dance).
See the passion these players perform before a whistle is even blown. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I was fortunate to represent Tonga in the 2008 World Cup.
Mate Ma'a Tonga, translates to “Die for Tonga”.
Best of both representative worlds
I've got the best of both words, Tonga and Queensland. I'll Paint myself half red, half Maroon for this week!
Origin: ‘Let's Go'!!!!
If there is a time to wrap the series up, it’s this game for the Queenslanders.
With a vast amount of changes for the Blues, it has everyone in the league world scratching their heads.
The axing of Latrell Mitchell is the biggest one. There are danger signs for the maroons.
The Blues have no choice or second chance after this one.
Brad Fitler will have the whole media circus ready to smash down the doors, demanding answers if they don't win this game.
Frankly I don't care what the ‘other team' is doing, actually the whole of Queensland doesn't care!
Queensland to wrap up the series in Perth and bring the Shield back to God's Country!
Kaufusi's Call for NRL representative round
7.45pm: Women’s State of Origin: NSW v QLD
3.40pm: New Zealand v Tonga
5:40pm: Fiji v Lebanon
7:55pm: Samoa v Papua New Guinea
7.50pm: NSW v Queensland
- Kaufusi proud to see Bundaberg on display for State of Origin