Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Last weekend we saw the long-awaited return of representative round and the return to the international stage for our Pacific Islands nations.
The most anticipated of which was New Zealand V Mate Ma’a Tonga with professional Rugby League being played across the Tasman for the first time since 2019.
Hosts New Zealand would run out the dominant victors snuffing out Tonga’s momentum heading into this year’s Rugby League World Cup.
Michael Maguire’s side put on a world-class performance with a few great individual efforts standing out above the rest.
Fullback Joseph Manu’s 402 run metres gained throughout the match now holds the record for the most metres ever run by one player in a single game.
New South Wales would then put on their own dominant display the following night by beating Queensland 44-12 and tying the 2022 State of Origin series heading into game III at Suncorp Stadium in a couple of weeks.
Former New Zealand Warriors head coach Tony Kemp has put out a bold statement during his appearance on SENZ Breakfast during the week as he claimed that the Kiwis could defeat both the Blues and the Maroons in an Origin-style three-game series.
“I’ll tell you right now if New Zealand were playing in a three-Test series against either Origin side, they’d win it,” Kemp said.
“100 per cent, they’d win it.”
“I’ve always said if you took away ‘Rabs’ Warren, the noise and all of the romance of it, you’ve just got another Test match.”
Ex-All Black Izzy Dagg then backed up Kemp’s comments.
“I think the Kiwis could get up,” Dagg said.
“They’re saying the right words, (Jesse) Bromwich said they want to be the best defensive side (in the world).
“They’re inspiring me as a fan. I think 100 per cent they could go out and win Origin.”
New Zealand themselves have a great opportunity to prove this theory at the World Cup in England following the 2022 NRL and Super League seasons.
If they can defeat Australia in the knockout stages and go on to win the tournament then Kemp and Dagg’s comments will certainly not be as divisive.